A young Levin man with a big social conscience and ambition for change has been hand-picked as a Global Teen Leader and will soon attend summit in the United States.

Liam McLeavey, 19, will join a select group of young people from 18 different countries and he is the only person chosen from either Australia or New Zealand to attend the New York summit among thousands of applicants worldwide.

The summit is sponsored by the We Are Family Foundation.

McLeavey, a former student of Waiopehu College, is in his second year of a degree in Politics at Massey University.


When he learned of the opportunity to apply for the Global Teen Leaders (GTL) summit in October, he underwent a searching interview process via computer and also provided a three-minute video application.

Liam McLeavey.
Liam McLeavey.

He was notified late last year that he had been accepted.

"It hasn't really set in yet," he said.

McLeavey said he was proud to show that anyone educated and living in small town New Zealand could aspire to big things.

"It's recognition of all the people that have supported me in the last five years and I hope shows that someone from little ol' Horowhenua can achieve and succeed on a global scale," he said.

"It's a powerful message to send to our young people as well, to aspire to do things like this."

McLeavey was also on the youth advisory group to the US Ambassador and was excited to be representing New Zealand in what would be his first visit to the United States

"It provides leaders that participate a chance to upskill and give back. I'm genuinely excited to go to the US. It's an amazing country."


A combination of business acumen and strong social justice drivers were behind his selection.

During his schooling McLeavey had always gravitated towards student councils and chaired youth advisory groups and his pathway into politics and social awareness was a natural progression.

He was manager and founder of Pathways Horowhenua, set up with the vision of ensuring young people reach their potential in education and employment.

McLeavey spent two years as a youth advisor to the Ministry of Education and was behind a project last year that saw Horowhenua benefit from a $50,000 Government grant.

The funds went towards a feasibility study into the types of investment needed to support better education and support outcomes for young people in Horowhenua.

McLeavey said Horowhenua had a growing job market that was diverse and the feasibility study helped map a path from education to employment.

It was born from a realisation that the unemployment rate was high and that was partly due to a lack of understanding of the employment pathway locally.

"The transition to work isn't working locally. There are plenty of jobs and enough people looking for work, but the two do not match up," he said.

"I am confident in the future of the district, but we need to make people aware of the jobs that are available."

We Are Family Foundation is a non-profit organisation and represents 18 countries worldwide, including South Africa, Vietnam, India, USA, Nigeria, Tanzania, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Germany, Switzerland, Kenya, Peru, Ukraine, Liberia, Ireland and Canada.

Co-founder and Chairman of WAFF is famous American musician and songwriter Nile Rogers, who said each year's intake inspired him.

"Just listening to their voices gives me a huge amount of hope," he said.

"A couple of years ago this profound thought came to me. If our summit took place during an apocalypse, our Global Teen Leaders would have the know how to survive and rebuild."

The 2020 Global Teen Leaders summit is in New York, March 27 to April 3.