Students take the lead

Last year we introduced a reinvigorated Youth Ambassador Leadership Programme in the Wellington region. We were thrilled to have 30 schools and 240 students and staff in attendance at that first workshop. The main focus of the programme is to equip students to take on leadership on the issue of violence prevention and we encouraged them to come up with their own projects and events to spread the White Ribbon kaupapa within their schools. We have been really impressed by the range of activities our Youth Ambassadors have undertaken and we would like to highlight some of the fantastic work they are doing to spread anti-violence messages and promote a re-evaluation of some of the outmoded stereotypes of masculinity.

So far there have been school dances, information evenings, assemblies, talks utilising some of our adult Ambassadors as well as our Spoken Word competition and there are plenty of other events planned for early 2020. Today we wanted to share one project in particular. The White Ribbon Youth Ambassadors at Scots College created a fantastic short film that takes the central ideas of the campaign and creates a personal, relatable film using students and staff to address the issue of what it means to be a man today.

The filmmakers spoke to staff and other students about masculinity, undermining those old unhelpful stereotypes like “boys don’t cry” and coming up with realistic positive definitions of 21st century masculinity. The speakers talk about the culture of silence and highlight the importance of challenging your mates when necessary. It’s a powerful message that we really wanted to share.

One of our key aims with the Youth Ambassador Leadership Programme (YALP) is to give students the information about the issues we face as a society and encourage them to find their own way of communicating it to their peers. It is so important that young people get these messages not only from the adults in their lives but also that they take ownership of this issue and message if we want to see real change in the future. The Youth Ambassadors at Scots College have demonstrated that they are more than capable of taking leadership in this space.

The programme is running again this year so if you know of a school that might be interested in taking part please pass this on and encourage them to get in touch with us. There is no cost to schools, beyond transporting students, and we want to make this programme available to as many schools as possible. There is more information about YALP here. There are currently plans to run the Youth Ambassador Leadership Programme in Wellington, Gisborne, Napier and Auckland in 2020 but we are keen to see it rolled out in other regions as well. Please write to us at if you would like more information.

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