Yesterday, I, as well as many other passionate youth, attended the Youth Action Plan for Christchurch. In this event, we started off by playing games and getting to know everyone there. We got to create our own youth space to see in Christchurch with the help of people from What Now. My group came up with the idea that the reason why so many kids go to places like the bus exchange or the mall is because almost every bus goes there. We decided to have the youth space be near the city center so it is easy to get to. Most youth are bored, and there are parks for smaller kids in the city, but not really anything for teens. With the help of members of the city council, we created a two-story building, with many rooms in it, so that people don't get bored. Some of the rooms consisted of a gym, a room to find out more information about employment, a lounge, a garden outside, and a wellbeing room.
On the topic of jobs, most youth, like me, want to get a career but can't since they don't know where to go. We were thinking we'd have an event monthly where local businesses and employers show up to promote their workplace. Also, on the topic of wellbeing, we said that youth are too afraid to openly talk about their feelings. People need to realize that there are places to go for help, and we would have a whole room dedicated for information about mental health, and places to talk about feelings and emotions.
Later in the day, city councilors joined us and talked about policy and changes we would like to see implemented in Christchurch. My group came up with the idea that cheaper or even free buses would increase the use of public transport, leading to a sustainable future. We decided that we would have a week in Christchurch where all the buses were free or at a lower fare, to see if it would work. I get driven to school everyday, and it's much better for the environment to take the bus. Some people from the group I was in considered having buses to "order" from the council. The idea of this would be that a safe, qualified bus driver would get a call asking to be driven to a place in the city. Members thought of this idea since you see lots of empty buses in our city, which isn't good for the environment.
Another policy we considered was lowering the voting age for interested teens. We thought up the policy, with the help of the mayor and another council member. The main idea was that the voting age shouldn't be lowered nationally for everyone, since people would probably vote for the most popular meme. But, for teens like me who are interested in politics, there would be a way for us to register to vote. The process would be through the city council, and would have to prove that they don't take voting as a joke. The future of New Zealand and our politics affect us, but we have no say in it by a vote, and I wish to change that. A councilor said that youth interested in politics know more than old people who don't really care, but they get a vote and we don't.
On the topic of environment, we put in place ideas about cleaning up our waterways, and putting more solar panels in our city, to assure a sustainable future.
After selfies, chats about policy, and eating way too much free food, the event closed. I felt inspired to create change in our city and wrote emails to MPs about the ideas discussed in the Youth Action Plan. Working with the Christchurch Youth Council, the Christchurch Youth Movement, and Youth Voice Canterbury was an amazing experience. We all collaborated and shared our thoughts and ideas to eachother and members of the city council. With all us working together we can create a sustainable, youth friendly Christchurch. I would like to thank all of the organizations yesterday that joined together to make real change in our city.
- Azaria Howell
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