The Handle the Jandal Campaign is a community youth-led campaign, aimed at improving Pacific Youth Mental Health and wellbeing in South Auckland.
Supported by Ko Awatea and led by Alex Nicholas and her team of passionate and committed youth leaders, the campaign aims to enable Pacific youth, across South Auckland to take responsibility for their wellbeing by connecting with other youth to discuss the issues they face on a day to day basis and take collective action to implement strategies that build youth resilience and community.
In the following blog Alex shares her insight into a campaign that is gaining momentum and popularity in South Auckland …
I started leading Handle the Jandal in January 2013 and having lived in South Auckland and gone to school here, I was delighted to be a part of a movement that would see young people working together, to bring about positive change for themselves and our Pacific community.
Talking from my own experience Pacific youth tend to deal with mental health issues on their own, or simply just put up with it. Handle the Jandal sends the message that we are all human, we all experience pressure, we don’t have to put up with it and by working together we can do something about it.
This new way of thinking has caught on and what started as a group of 5 youth leaders, has now increased to 25 with over 150 Pacific youth, parents and community leaders attending a workshop on ‘handling pressure’ in October 2013.
I think there is great potential and desire among young people in South Auckland to create a movement for change. What we are starting to see is people gaining more confidence and drawing on the support and strength of others, who believe in the same values they do.
Underpinning the campaign is the concept of ‘community organising’ – an approach to change which helped Barak Obama into presidency in 2009. Over 7000 community organisers were trained to go out and mobilise a mass movement of people, who believed in Obama’s vision and values.
While on a much smaller scale the Handle the Jandal Campaign uses the same principles of engagement, by sending out a clear message that we are stronger together than a part. Centred on strong leadership the campaign recruits passionate and motivated pacific youth leaders or organisers to reach out to other pacific youth in South Auckland. They do this by building relationships, sharing stories and taking the time to find out what people really value.
Pacific Islanders really identify with story telling, so it’s a core part of how we recruit people and get them on board. By giving something of ourselves, we connect with others and provide them an opportunity to share as well.
We are delighted with the support we have had from Pacific youth, their families and the South Auckland community. Once people get an understanding about what we are doing, the community rallies around – whether it’s providing a venue for our meetings, bringing in boxes of food and drink or simply parents listening to and supporting their children. Our people are our greatest resource and there is a lot of untapped potential in our community. The trick is channeling these resources in the most effective way. At the end of the day if the community doesn’t believe or see value in what we are trying to achieve, they won’t take action to support it.
As for the future our dream is to expand our team of youth leaders to 120 by November 2014 and set up a Pacific youth-led support network throughout South Auckland.
These networks can be used for mobilising pacific youth around issues such as suicide, obesity, drug and alcohol use. What a powerful movement for change.
Lead Organiser Pacific Youth Project
For further information about the Handle the Jandal campaign contact Alex via email: Alexandra.Nicholas@middlemore.co.nz