Winning projects from the Young Leaders Programme 2014

Image of Youth Leaders watching a video from Berlinda Chin

As part of the project management module of the Office of Ethnic Affairs Young Leaders Programme 2014, participants developed and delivered a suite of social justice themed projects. Led by expert trainer Ron Eckman, participants were taken through the principles of project management and then worked together in small groups to apply what they had learned over 12 weeks to implement these projects.

In addition to being original and innovative the projects had to:

  • be achievable within the available resources.
  • have the potential to have a useful outcome.
  • have clear beneficiaries, and
  • be able to inspire others.

The groups were also competing against each other for the categories of best in their region and the best in the programme overall. Each group was required to submit a final report for review and assessment by a panel of judges.

We asked the national winning project team and the three finalist project teams to tell you a little about their projects.


(National Winner and Hamilton Regional Winner)

Coloured project blog

The Problem

The idea for Coloured came about from the personal experiences of our team members who have been on the receiving end of racism and are still battling with a large portion of New Zealanders that say racism isn’t present in New Zealand communities. We decided to do some research and were surprised to find a staggering number of examples of racism laced throughout the newspapers and the internet.

This combination of empirical evidence and our own personal experiences lead our team to believe that racism is a real and problematic issue in New Zealand. Therefore we made it our project goal to raise awareness of racism in our society in order to assist in its reduction.

The Solution

We chose to conduct and film a ‘social experiment’ on the streets of Hamilton in an effort to identify how many people might intervene when confronted by an everyday act of low level racial abuse. We also interviewed a number of random strangers to ask whether they would intervene when or if they observed acts of racism. We then showed our short film at a public event attended by 60 people.

The Impact We Made

Through our project activities, we believe that we contributed successfully to raising awareness of racism in the community, even though we had a few setbacks. We got a few positive responses from the public in the surveys we conducted and from people who watched the short film.

However there is no real way of measuring whether people would step in unless they found themselves in a situation where they had a chance to put their words into action. In the end, we can only hope they would.

What the Judges Said …

  • This was a well thought out and very thoughtful project.
  • The judges were impressed at the courage of the group members to act out publicly the racial taunts that some of them may have experienced in their own lives, and to be prepared to risk suffering public abuse in return.
  • This project had several complex elements that the group managed to keep on track and to bring together seamlessly for their film premier evening at the university.
  • The final project report was one of the best that was submitted across the regions.

Volunteer Me

(Christchurch Regional Winner)

Volunteer Me project blog

The Problem

The Volunteer sector in New Zealand is diverse in its size, roles and mission. While volunteering is traditionally associated with the older crowd, we have seen a new movement of youth volunteerism. This is promising but there is certainly room to better engage the wider youth community. The youth are often misconceived as self-centred and uninterested in the wider community but recent examples of youth movements such as the Student Volunteer Army in Christchurch prove otherwise. Volunteerism is a great way of bringing communities together and youth should be given the opportunity to participate in this process. Volunteer management has had a presence in New Zealand over the past few decades but we have yet to adopt advancements in technology to better engage the youth market.

The Solution

Our approach to the problem was to apply a combination of technology and creativity to our App to revolutionise the Volunteer Sector. The Volunteer Me App would be interactive, fun and accessible to all, with an added focus on youth. To make the App attractive to youth, we adopted gamification to our model. Gamification is the use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts to engage users in solving problems.

Each volunteer would have their own profile on the App. The profile would be designed to feature and track the volunteer's progress. Badges would be allocated to each volunteer reflecting on the number of times the volunteer has volunteered, organised events and shared events. 

We designed the App to make the process of volunteering easier by categorising areas of the volunteer sector and displaying them in a fun and vibrant manner. With this layout, youths would able to pick areas that interest them. 

We also added a geographical tracker feature, which pinpoints the real-time location of the volunteer and where the nearest volunteer events are found that fit their time commitment and interests.

The Impact We Made

In order for us to back up our designs and ideas with needs-based evidence, we prepared surveys for both charitable organisations and volunteers. We used survey monkey as a platform to reach our target audience. We have collected over 74 responses from volunteers and 8 responses from charitable organisations. We are still in the process of procuring more volunteers for our survey. We also made a video collecting the responses from high school and university students regarding the Volunteer Me Project.

As another way of measuring the interest of the public or impact of our ideas, we set up a Volunteer Me Facebook page. To date, we have had 146 likes to our page and that number continues to grow. 

We recently set up a Pledge Me account to collect funds towards launching our project. We are currently still fundraising and developing our App.

What the Judges Said …

  • A particularly original project – building on the participants’ own experiences of volunteering.
  • It demonstrated a great use of available resources – in particular their own knowledge of technology and emerging trends. Adding “gamification” added an extra dimension to aid its appeal to its target audience.
  • We noted the careful planning and attention to the details surrounding the protection of intellectual property created through this project and their formation of a limited liability company to safeguard their future interest in the app.
  • Very well-written project report.

Rise above bullying - Balloons for changefrom left to right Guled Mire, Marianna Stetsive, Nardos Tilahun, Mohamud Hassan, Arthur Ung

(Auckland Regional Winner)

Rise above bullying project blog

The Problem

Bullying has been identified as a common issue among youth across New Zealand. The Human Rights Commission indicated that bullying within New Zealand schools has become a prevalent issue, which resulted in a rapidly increasing number of bullying complaints lodged with the Commission over the last few years.

Additionally, a recent online survey, which targeted teachers across New Zealand, found a staggering 94% of the respondents expressed bullying as existing in their schools. The study also found that 70% of the respondents thought that social/relational bullying which involves spreading gossip as being the most problematic. This was followed by verbal and cyber bullying at 67% and 39% respectively. About 35% of teachers also stated that physical bullying is the most problematic in their schools.

The evidence shows that bullying requires our attention as well as further initiatives to combat its negative and sometimes tragic impact on individuals.

The Solution

As a solution to our identified problem, we decided to organize and execute an anti-bullying campaign, endeavoring to spread awareness about bullying issues in our communities. In doing so, we utilised successfully the networks of our group members in securing support for delivering an effective solution to the problem, through both cash and in-kind sponsorships.

Our project encouraged individuals to reach out and seek help if they are victims of bullying, and also informed them about the services that are available to them. Additionally, our project encouraged by-standers to help those who might be victims of bullying at a school, university, or their workplace. Furthermore, we also targeted those who may be bullies themselves, and encouraged them to think about the consequences of their actions and the serious effects that bullying has on others. Our awareness campaign also took place online where participants were able to engage with us, and access information about bullying which we updated regularly.

As for the outdoor campaign, our aim was to hand out at least 200 balloons throughout two of our events at Auckland Girls Grammar School and the University of Auckland. We also asked individuals to write anonymous messages on post it notes, which we posted up on our page to share their personal experiences, support, and inspiration. These messages were supposed to act as a way of reaching out and letting others know that they are not alone if they are being bullied, and that there are others who share the same issues.

Furthermore, we created a short documentary to be shared across our social media outlets. The documentary highlights our journey throughout the campaign and will be used to inspire other young people to take social action against injustices.

The Impact We Made

We ran a successful campaign where individuals have engaged with our materials and participated in our campaign against bullying. We ran a stall at Auckland Girls Grammar School and The University of Auckland where we handed out balloons, bullying related resources (flyers, pamphlets, cards) and asked our participants to support us online.

We intend to keep our Facebook page going beyond the project parameters as it has gained some momentum and looks like it will continue to grow. The Ethnic Liaison Officer from the New Zealand Police also stated that the Community Development Facilitator from Auckland Council was interested in hearing more about our project as she encourages youth involvement in city planning. This may also lead to future opportunities for us to expand our project.

As a result of our campaign, the individuals who engaged with us became more knowledgeable and aware of the issues surrounding bullying. This will have a positive impact on their behaviours and actions in the future.

What the Judges Said…

  • This was a multi-faceted project based on solid research and good partnerships.
  • The group presented evidence of their work with other agencies and the support they received from Auckland Girls Grammar School and the local community constable.
  • Their video diary clearly demonstrated the atmosphere and connection they established with their target audience, and their use of social media exceeded the targets they set in their original project plan.
  • The additional sponsorship funds they brought in helped the group to source the materials they needed to make their events a success.
  • Their close-out report was excellent

Vote DiversitySaha Abdi, Shamika Khan, Nasra Alii, Nathalie Harrington, Toni Ann Alamani

(Wellington Regional Winner)

Vote Diversity project blog

The Problem

The issue identified by Vote Diversity was the low turnout at general elections by youth and migrants. New Zealand citizens and permanent residents aged 18 and above have full voting rights.  The exercise of this right by both young and old alike is crucial to the effective functioning of democracy.   However, according to the 2013 Census data, only 69.44 per cent of eligible 18-24 year olds are enrolled to vote.   Studies have found that recent immigrants to New Zealand are far less likely to be enrolled to vote than members of the total population.   Consequently, young migrant participation, or lack of,  in elections is of concern.

The Solution

While there were examples of efforts to increase the rates of Māori youth participation in voting, there was little evidence of any targeted attempts to engage youth from other ethnic minorities Hence, the aim of the project was to raise awareness of the importance of voting among ethnic-minority youth with the overall goal of increasing the number of voting ethnic-minority youth in New Zealand.

As a primary outcome, our team produced a series of images and videos featuring young, ethnically diverse New Zealanders, explaining in their mother tongue why they would be voting in the upcoming September Elections.  Their messages were translated into English subtitles.  These images and videos were displayed on our group’s Facebook page.  See Figures 1 and 2 for examples of these posters.

The immediately observable secondary outcome was the engagement using video and photographs by participants with ideas about the election.  Each participant had to think of a reason why they would be casting a vote.  For many, this was a difficult exercise.  Even more challenging for some was the need to articulate this in their mother-tongue.

The Impact We Made

The importance of participating in a general election cannot be overstated.  We consider every Facebook ‘reach’, ‘like’ or interaction of any other kind to help us in our mission to encourage ethnic youth participation.  We reached 187 likes on our Facebook page and our maximum reach was over 3500. It was really beneficial paying for Facebook promotion as organically we would only have reached about 500 people.  In hindsight, it would have been better to start our page earlier to get more exposure and more people talking about it. Additionally, we could have been more generous with our expenditure on Facebook. 

Importantly, our volunteer participants were all prompted to think about personal reasons as to why they would be voting. It sparked conversations about the topic that extended into the families of the participants.  This was because many of the participants were not confident that they were expressing themselves clearly in their mother tongue.  As a result, nearly every volunteer made calls to older family members, asking for help to translate sentences.  This was not something that we had anticipated and at first this was of slight concern.  However, it turned out to be a significant organic way of spreading our message beyond our initial target group.  As a result of requiring participants to use their mother tongue, the conversation about why people should vote was extended to include many family members, of all generations. 

What the Judges Said …

  • A particularly topical project – building on the messages that the team had gleaned from their exposure to material from the Electoral Commission at the EthnicA Conferences earlier in the year.
  • Great reach on their Facebook page.
  • Simple in its execution – with impacts that reached well beyond the volunteers who took part and great to see the involvement of older family members.
  • Had a clear social justice outcome.
  • Easily replicated in the future – we would like the group to meet with the promotions and campaign team at the Electoral Commission to share their experience of doing this project.
  • Very well-written project report.