Conference to keep Pasifika youth in touch

By Jonathan Dine

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More than 200 youths are expected for the second annual Pasifika Youth Conference, starting tomorrow.
More than 200 youths are expected for the second annual Pasifika Youth Conference, starting tomorrow.

Too many young Pasifika people are taking their lives.

According to data released by the Ministry of Health, one in 20 or 4.8 per cent of Pasifika people attempt suicide during their lifetime.

The national surveys carried out in 2000, 2007 and 2012 revealed that 23 Pasifika people committed suicide each year and 1.2 per cent of Pasifika people had attempted suicide in the previous year.

Pasifika students are also three times more likely to attempt suicide than European students.

In an effort to reduce the high suicide rate, Directions Youth Centre have teamed up with the Ministry of Youth Development and the Hawke's Bay District Health Board to create an annual event to teach young Pacific people that life is valuable and worth living.

A youth Pasifika conference will take place this week, running under the banner hope, which spelt out stands for hold on, pain ends.

The conference, "WONBY1," is for all young Pacific people in Hawke's Bay and will aim to empower, engage and educate, Directions youth worker Michelle Ioesefo said.

The conference, in its second year, will be host to 210 young Pasifika.

Youth workers, social workers, health workers and members of the community will join forces and host workshops on sexual health, addictions, relationships, drugs and alcohol.

There will also be practical workshops such as music, creative arts, media and sports where young people are able to use their talents to develop their confidence.

Three prominent Pacific role models will be guest speakers including a policeman, a fashion designer and a former Magpie.

The event will culminate on Saturday night with a concert.

Directions chief executive Jane Wilson said she and her team of experienced workers were looking forward to the exciting event. "It is such a privilege to deliver this free conference to an audience of 200 young Pasifika people," she said.

The conference will kick off at 10am tomorrow, January 21, at the Cook Islands Centre in Flaxmere.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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