The Flaxmere community now has its very first youth advocate group.

Around 20 young people have formed a governance board that will act as a voice for their community.

"There is no particular age group. We have a 10-year-old and the oldest is 18, but our main age group is 14-18.

"We've got these strong young ones that are so passionate and solution driven," says Taneshia Gill, Youth Co-Ordinator at the Flaxmere Community Centre.


"They've got a chairman and treasury and so having a governance board gives them structure and gives them longevity as well."

The group will focus on event management for their community particularly youth events to get the young people engaged.

There will also be family events and special activities for the elderly, as a way to bridge the communication gap between the young and the old.

Ms Gill who helped assemble the group by starting off that initial conversation with youth was able to identify their needs, their issues and the things they liked and didn't like.

"It was clearly identified the youth needed an opportunity to voice their opinions and be the director of where they want things to go in their age group."

She says it is a great opportunity to get the youth into the driver's seat rather than having adults over-ride their ideas - "this will definitely give them a voice".

All the youth are from Flaxmere with most of them going to Flaxmere College with only a few of them at different schools.

They've identified areas that youth need support in such as sexual health, mental health, youth services and career pathways as well as opportunities in sports, nutrition and living an active lifestyle.

The board aligns its strategies with the Flaxmere Community Plan by having youth doing positive things.

Ms Gill says it also enables the Hastings District Council to have a solid group of youth to call upon whenever the community needs support.

"The best thing is that the youth are so passionate and driven about their peers they feel confident to advocate for themselves and their youth."

Moving forward they want to run the youth space at the Flaxmere Community Centre with specific youth nights to get young people engaged and to feel supported in a safe environment.

There they can talk about semi-serious topics, get educated on life skills and identify coping skills for issues like bullying and gossiping.