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ĀTa Whakarongo (Be Heard): Barnardos Aotearoa And VFTN Launch Youth Mural Competition

Leading up to Youth Week NZ (20-24 May), Barnardos Aotearoa, in collaboration with the Violence Free Tairāwhiti Network (VFTN), is excited to announce the launch of a youth mural competition, Āta Whakarongo (Be Heard), aimed at raising awareness about 0800 What’s Up, Barnardos’ counselling service for children and young people, among rangatahi in Tairāwhiti.

Young people aged 13 and above, with a passion for the arts, are encouraged to participate in this unique initiative by submitting their mural designs to Barnardos Aotearoa by 2PM, 22 May 2024. The winning artist will have the opportunity to paint their design into a permanent mural at the local skatepark's halfpipe, covering approximately 40 square metres of space.

"We believe in empowering young people to express themselves creatively and to seek help when needed, including from 0800 What’s Up counsellors" says Chris Semmens, Barnardos Aotearoa Service Manager in Tairāwhiti. "This initiative provides a platform for rangatahi to share their stories and encourage discussions around mental wellbeing."

Barnardos’ counselling service 0800 What’s Up is the only helpline and online chat service in Aotearoa for tamariki and rangatahi aged 5 to 19 years old. It’s free, confidential, available seven days a week, from 11am to 11pm.

At Barnardos Aotearoa, we see tamariki and rangatahi in Tairāwhiti facing multiple challenges affecting their ability to thrive. The lack of housing, poverty, food insecurity, the reality of violence, substance abuse, the long-lasting impacts of the floods, and the increase in parental separation are all serious issues impacting young people in the region.

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“There's a significant need for mental wellbeing services targeting young people and support for rangatahi in Tairāwhiti," notes Chris. "By promoting our helpline, we aim to bridge the gap and ensure young people have access to the support they need and deserve."

“Every young person has their own story and issues to deal with, but each share a common understanding of how they would like to be heard. This initiative aims to give our young people the creative opportunity to express the way they can seek help,” says Wendy Miller, Barnardos Aotearoa Violence Free Tairāwhiti Network (VFTN) Coordinator.

More information about the competition can be found on Barnardos’ website Youth Week Mural Comp | Barnardos Aotearoa.

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