A project aimed at sharing messages of care and love has been rekindled in memory of a Kerikeri teenager who died in October last year.

Sixteen-year-old Dion Hodder contracted meningococcal disease at a St John Youth camp in the Hauraki Gulf, and died in hospital in Auckland.

His mother, Todd Horton, said her son had been a sensitive boy, and would go out of his way to ensure everyone was included.

"Anyone who knew Dion would vouch for the fact that he was a kind, caring person who always put others ahead of himself and treated everyone equally. First to lend a hand and help out, and often the first to notice someone sitting alone and take a step to include them in his day," she said.

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Before he died she and Dion developed "You Matter" cards, based on a concept from the You Matter Compassion Project in the US. The cards, featuring a simple love heart and the words "You Matter," were to be given to people looking upset or having a rough day.

The 'You Matter' cards are designed to be given to someone who's down, for them to keep or pass on.
The 'You Matter' cards are designed to be given to someone who's down, for them to keep or pass on.

They included instructions that they could be kept or paid forward to show someone else they mattered.

The concept resonated because Horton and Dion had lost a family member to suicide about seven years ago.

"He said 'If it stops someone else doing that and putting our family through that, then it's cool'," she said.

"When you're in a very dark place, it's nice to know that you matter and someone has noticed that you're not your normal smiley face.

"If anyone was to notice that you weren't your normal smiley self, it was Dion."

Horton admitted the cards "lay quiet" after Dion's death, as they were a painful reminder of him. But a few weeks ago she decided to start sharing them again as a symbol of "Dion" movements – like a hug, a high-five or a smile.

The messages were even more pertinent after the Christchurch mosque attacks, and Horton was considering sending a bunch to the city.

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"It's a simple reminder that everyone in this world is important and that we all matter," she said.

Horton was willing to give cards away to anyone who wanted them, as long as demand did not get out of hand. Contact her at thoddy7@icloud.com