2016 Queen's Young Leader, Brad Olsen, and CYNZ Executive Director and Queen's Young Leader Advisory Panel member, Aaron Hape.
PR: CYNZ CONGRATULATES NEW ZEALAND'S 2016 QUEEN'S YOUNG LEADERS
COMMONWEALTH YOUTH NEW ZEALAND
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TUESDAY, 8 DECEMBER 2015
Commonwealth Youth New Zealand Executive Director Aaron Hape today extended the organisation's congratulations to Brad Olsen and Valentino Wichman on being named as Queen's Young Leaders award winners for New Zealand and the Cook Islands respectively in the 2016 round of awards.
Brad, 18, is an advocate for young people. He spent four years on the Whangarei District Council Youth Advisory Group, where he offered advice on policies which affect young people, and is a Youth Ambassador for UNICEF NZ, providing views around children's rights. He has also volunteered with Commonwealth Youth New Zealand, to raise awareness of the Commonwealth. At the age of 17, Brad helped to set up a free healthcare clinic for young people in Whangarei. He also works with the National Youth Advisory Group, advising government departments and NGOs about issues ranging from mental health to education.
Valentino, 28, supports LGBTQI rights in the Cook Islands and is Secretary of the Te Tiara Association. After helping to draft the Cook Islands Youth Policy, she wants to spend the year as a Queen’s Young Leader working with policy makers to bring LGBQTI legislation into line with that of New Zealand and to develop support services for the LGBQTI community in the Cook Islands. In addition Valentino plays a key role in other community groups, including The Cook Islands Prostate Foundation and the Rotaract Club of Rarotonga, which offers young people aged 18 to 30 the chance to make a difference in their neighbourhood.
"I am absolutely thrilled to see the amazing work Brad and Valentino undertake has been rightly recognised by the Head of the Commonwealth, Her Majesty The Queen," said Mr Hape, who is also a member of the panel that selects Queen's Young Leader award winners.
"Their dedication in taking a lead in their communities and using their skills to transform lives should serve as an inspiration to young people around the Commonwealth, as it did for me when I read their stories."
Winners of this prestigious Award will receive a unique package of training, mentoring and networking, including a one-week residential programme in the United Kingdom during which they will be conferred with their Award by The Queen. With this support, Award winners will be expected to continue and develop the amazing work they are already doing in their communities.
New Zealand's first winner of a Queen's Young Leader award was Tabby Besley. Tabby founded InsideOUT, which aims to make schools more inclusive places for young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
Brad is a student at Victoria University of Wellington where he is studying towards a BCom/BA majoring in Economics, Public Policy, International Relations and Political Science. Originally from Whangarei, Brad served on the Whangarei District Council Youth Advisory Group including two years as Chair, alongside roles with UNICEF New Zealand as a National Youth Ambassador and Board Advisor. He also works with the Ministry of Youth Development administered National Youth Advisory Group and other organisations like Commonwealth Youth New Zealand. Passionate about youth voice, Brad works to encourage other young people to participate and have their voices heard.
In mid November I travelled to Malta along with 4 other New Zealanders to participate in 33SIxty, an international Commonwealth leadership programme. The focus was two-fold: to work towards solutions that would combat undue profiting from migration — a hot topic across the world but especially in Europe currently — while also building the leadership skills and networks for the 100 youth leaders who travelled from across the Commonwealth to meet.
Migration - the Global Challenge
We were tasked over four days to observe, analyse and then present out ideas on what options could prevent undue profiting from migration — a task that governments and NGOs across the world are struggling with. It was hoped that we as young people could bring new, innovative eyes to give a fresh perspective. But first we had to learn about the issue.
So learn we did: what followed was two days of intensive immersion visits around different organisations on the Maltese Islands including to De La Rue (the world’s largest commercial passport manufacturer), the Marsa Ope Centre (where migrants live when they arrive in Malta), the Migrant Offshore Aid Station, the UNHCR, the Maltese Red Cross and others. These visits gave us first-hand expert knowledge of what was happening ‘on the front line’ of the migration crisis - what we learnt was that may first appear as a simple issue is actually a multifaceted concern. People are moving from their homes for various reasons from political unrest and violence to the hope of economic prosperity in other countries.
We also found that there is a huge amount of mis-information amongst both the migrating populaces and the countries that accept migrants leading to heightened migration risk and high levels of animosity within the local population. As such, all participants recognised the need to provide avenues for information sharing to a large number of people. As the world has shifted further towards digital connectedness, many participants established their solutions around online or technology based information platforms that fostered offline, personal interactions and communication to create a sense of community and inclusion for all.
A chance to enhance youth leadership
At the same time, this programme also allowed myself and fellow participants the ability to extend our understandings of leadership and to advance our skills and networks. It was an incredible opportunity for a group of highly motivated young people who are creating incredible changes in their communities across the Commonwealth. It was inspiring to meet young leaders from places including Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, India and Nigeria who have produced some incredible actions in recent years that directly benefit society and confirm that there are individuals throughout the world who are willing to step up and be negated when called upon.
This was an opportunity for this group as a cohort to compare methods, successes and ideas in the knowledge that test will engender future projects across the globe. It was particularly inspiring to meet a number of the 2015 Queens Young Leaders who have been recognised by the Queen for their leadership; they provide a role model to which all young people can aspire to for the work they do in their communities and the enormous impact they make.
Now that 33Sixty has finished, I am looking forward to connecting with organisations in New Zealand to not only contextualise migration from a New Zealand perspective but to speak to all manner of people about my experiences and impart the knowledge I have gain through this trip to further the knowledge of others — if you’re interested in hearing more get in touch with Commonwealth Youth New Zealand at firstname.lastname@example.org