Topics: Environment, Health, Youth

Youth group seeks to empower rangatahi to tackle serious issues

By Talisa Kupenga

A youth collective that promotes international peace wants to empower youth to address the big issues facing their generation.

The International Peace Youth Group (IPYG) and Rangi Whakaaio are helping youth speak up to instigate change.

Rangi Whakaaio spokeperson Johnsen Kiwi-Scally says, “We have high suicide statistics, mental health statistics and we want to work on addressing the root cause of these issues to change it for the next generation.”

A small free public workshop co-hosted by both groups in Auckland this weekend will focus on the links between media, journalism and mental health.

Kiwi-Scally says they want to change the way social media is used, knowing the impacts it can have on the mental well-being of others.

"We're thinking about how we can flip that on its head and make sure that it's truthful and that we're conscientious about the ramifications or the negative effects from the media and how it's delivered.

"This workshop will be a chance to bring rangatahi and journalists together to learn from each other, and discuss the role of press and media in building peace."

Kiwi-Scally says support and a collective approach is what youth need.

"Helping each other. Things like 'I'm in the same boat but I made it out', things like inspiration, so we don't get stuck in normalising our people as the stereotypes that are put out there and instead use what we've been bought up with in our culture and the respect we were taught from our elders and putting that at the forefront."

The relationship between war, climate change and displacement is another issue high on the radar.  The group supports and advocates for an international peace law.  A Pacific Leaders' Summit for Peace next month will focus on these issues.

"The effects of climate change can truly take away from your identity.  If you're losing land you're losing a part of yourself.  With that people are being displaced so- even more so- its creating conflict because they have to go to a place that is not their own.  So, how are they supposed to adjust when it's not their whenua?"

IPYG is currently working actively in 111 countries, including New Zealand, Australia and some of the Pacific Island nations, to unite and empower rangatahi of all cultures, religions, beliefs and backgrounds.

Those interested to Saturday's workshop can register online at the Eventbrite website.