I was lucky enough to attend the smokefree conference in Wellington after applying and winning a scholarship.
I was the youngest person there, being 16, and myself and another girl were the only youths to attend this conference. I wanted to go because I am a part of the Cancer Society Smokefree Youth Ambassadors and I wanted to know what we could do next in our community to help towards the national goal of a smokefree New Zealand by 2025.
The conference was held at Te Papa on November 8 and 9. Over the course of the conference there were many speakers and sessions. My favourite speaker was Ngahihi o te ra Bidois, who is an international speaker and who is described as a modern day warrior. He mostly talked about leaders and how leaders act and what they look like. He also taught us how to be a strong leader. He was very inspiring and encouraging.
Another speaker I enjoyed was Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia. She talked about the progress that has been made over the past year. One thing that I was very happy about was that 14 to 15-year-olds are at the lowest ever smoking rate in 2011 and 2012. Ms Turia told us that even though we have accomplished heaps we still need to do heaps more to meet our goal before 2025.
At the conference I also attended sessions about young people, mental health and human rights, policy and regulations and public support. Now I have heaps of new and exciting ways for my group to help achieve this massive goal. I am passionate more than ever to make sure New Zealand is smokefree for future generations.
I am thankful to the Cancer Society for assisting me with the trip and also Kate Johnston for doing extra work to help me get there.
- The Timaru Herald