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Young Kiwi receives medal from The Queen

Young Kiwi receives medal from The Queen

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Her Majesty the Queen has presented a young Kiwi and anti-bullying campaigner, Ashleigh Smith, with the Queen’s Young Leaders Award at a ceremony on Friday morning (New Zealand Time) at Buckingham Palace, recognising her incredible efforts leading the New Zealand initiative ‘Sticks ‘n Stones’ to reduce online bullying within schools.

The 19-year-old nursing student from Otago is one of 60 young people awarded a medal by the Queen, with 2017 marking the third and penultimate year of the Queen’s Young Leaders Award.

The Queen’s Young Leaders programme discovers, celebrates and supports exceptional young people from across the Commonwealth, working in their countries to leave a lasting legacy for Her Majesty the Queen.

Ashleigh has spent the past fortnight in the United Kingdom attending the Queen’s Young Leader Award residential programme, which includes a suite of workshops designed to enhance recipients’ work areas and projects in their home countries. The group has called on such organisations as Redthread, the BBC, AMV BBDO, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Facebook, and Google among others.

The programme has also included meeting with senior government officials at 10 Downing Street and the Commonwealth Secretariat.

"Ashleigh’s work in New Zealand with Sticks ‘n Stones to reduce online bullying in New Zealand schools is inspirational, and perfectly reflects her compassion and drive to make New Zealand and the world a better place to live in,” said Brad Olsen, Executive Director of Commonwealth Youth New Zealand, who is also New Zealand’s Queen’s Young Leader for 2016 and currently with Ashleigh in London supporting the Queen’s Young Leaders programme.

“Her work stands out for its ability to directly change young New Zealanders’ lives through addressing a major issue facing everyday Kiwis. Her dedication to working with others makes Ashleigh a role model for others throughout the Commonwealth to engage with their communities and work towards shared solutions.”

Ashleigh is being awarded for her dedication to reducing the problem of online bullying. She is co-leader and vice chair of the board for Sticks ‘n Stones (SnS), an organisation that focuses on positive action to avert the risk of cyber-bullying and aggressive online behaviour. She is also chair of her local SnS division, where she organises and hosts events for both young people and parents about online life and social media. In addition, Ashleigh mentors young people in schools throughout Central Otago and Dunedin, helping students to run workshops about bullying and mental health.

Ashleigh is currently working with the Government to help inform their policy-making on bullying and social media. SnS now has 300 young volunteers, and Ashleigh hopes to be able to expand the initiative to every school in New Zealand. She is also studying to become a nurse, and plans to use her future career as an ongoing platform through which to raise awareness of bullying, suicide and mental health.

ENDS

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