Last week, Lakes DHB and Mayor Steve Chadwick hosted Mary Gordon at a community forum to raise awareness of the potential of "Roots of Empathy", a programme that helps develop empathy and positive social skills in children.
Having Mary come to Rotorua is an achievement in itself. The founder and international president of the "Roots of Empathy" and "Seeds of Empathy" programmes, she is also an award-winning social entrepreneur, educator and parenting expert. She is a Member of the Order of Canada and is Canada's first Ashoka Fellow. Mary's reputation is such that she can phone international leaders and they will take her call.
It was encouraging to see a good turnout at this hui from Rotorua organisations working in the social sector. Mary's presentation was inspirational and insightful. I found it encouraging to be in a room with a large group of locals committed to finding ways to help Rotorua become a healthier and safer community - and a place where all our children can thrive.
In recent months, I have written about how important it is that we work together to strengthen our community.
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I have shared thoughts about key ideas we need to get behind if we are to make this happen.
Having a vision about what we want our community to look like is the starting point. The next step is working out the practical things we need to do in order to make this a reality; what must we start doing? What do we need to stop? And what is already going well that we need to grow and strengthen?
I said last week there are no easy answers to social problems such as family violence, but that does not mean there are no solutions and our situation is hopeless. Communities around the world have overcome major challenges to achieve positive change. Although there are a lot of things in the mix, the common factor always present in any form of social change is great leadership.
We have lots of great leaders in Rotorua and I have drawn encouragement from the way those leaders are working together in a much more co-ordinated way to get a better result for our community.
Positive change is possible, but we must support one another if we are to create a community that nurtures our children and helps them achieve their potential. More on that next week. Ka kite ano.
-Inspector Bruce Horne is Rotorua police area commander