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Student Volunteer Week 2019 celebrates youth leadership and Kaitiakitanga

katie-bruceKatie Bruce

Chief Executive | Volunteering New Zealand

Young people are stepping up and taking on some of the most important issues our world has ever seen. From those who spend their weekends protecting native birds from predators, to the students responding with acts of kindness in the wake of the horrific terrorist attacks in Christchurch, the contributions of young people in Aotearoa New Zealand should not be underestimated.

As I have been reflecting, looking for ways to heal and how we can all foster inclusive communities in the wake of the horrific terrorist attacks, I was reminded of the diversity and inclusivity at the schools strike for climate in Wellington the very same morning. The mix of kindness, a strong sense of urgency and inclusive practices that I see amongst student volunteers right across the sector fills me with hope, not just for the future, but for right now.

This week is Student Volunteer Week 2019 (1-7 April). Kaitiakitanga, the guardianship of nature, is this year’s campaign theme. Student volunteers are at the forefront of key initiatives, such as advocating for the carbon neutral future needed to safeguard our planet. It is a time to celebrate the amazing mahi of our Student Superheroes in all areas of volunteering.

Throughout this week, universities, schools and volunteer organisations are hosting events to celebrate their student volunteers and connect young people with opportunities to start their volunteering journey. It is also a good time for us as a community sector to reflect on how we can create more space to support youth leadership and volunteering.

For all young people to have the opportunity to explore their identity and culture through community connections, volunteering needs to be reimagined. The diverse identities and cultures of young people in Aotearoa are not reflected in the diversity of volunteering opportunities available.

This is not about supporting young people to better fit into current volunteering models, but redesigning what active citizenship and volunteering mean and look like for young people in Aotearoa. Lack of awareness, a mismatch between interests and opportunities, and attitudes towards young people, can be barriers to young people benefiting from volunteering and community inclusion. Meaningful change requires a strategic nationwide approach to increase accessibility, opportunities, incentives and recognition of youth volunteering.

Join us in celebrating Student Volunteer Week 2019 through our campaign #SVW2019. More information can be found at www.studentvolunteerweek.nz.

 

This blog has been contributed by a member of the ComVoices network. The views presented here are not necessarily those of ComVoices.

ComVoices is a Wellington based network of national community and voluntary sector organisations. It was established so that sector organisations would have a more powerful voice at Government level and in the community.

Click here for our websitehttp://comvoices.org.nz/