Our club’s annual school lunch is a highlight of the year and this year’s on 10 September was no exception.  With students from Kings, McAuley, Otahuhu and Pacific Advance Colleges; plus teachers, visitors and Rotarians we had approximately sixty attendees.
Our speakers were Hailley Smith and Jasmine Worthington, the two youth ambassadors for the Key to Life Charitable Trust.  This trust was established by Mike King to bring attention to and support for dealing with mental health issues.  Hailley is from Tauranga and Jasmine is from Reporoa (near Rotorua).  They work in their local areas giving peer support to students.  Both youth ambassadors are financially supported by the IDEAL Foundation and we also hosted Errejon Gonzalo (IDEAL Foundation chair) and Shane Roger.  Also among our visitor group were Mike Dawes, interim chair of the Key for Life Trust and Hailley’s sister Sophie, who at 15 years old is also having some mental health issues as a result of a difficult family environment.
 Photo shows from left: Hailley, IPP Malcolm Miller, Jasmine and Sophie.
Hailey spoke first about her troubled childhood years, her problems and how at the age of ten she first started having suicidal thoughts.  It wasn't until she was about thirteen years old that her school friends noticed her self-harming and there was intervention.  Two years ago Hailey spent six months in a psychiatric ward at Starship Hospital.  She still battles with feelings of inadequacy and has two sessions of therapy and counselling each week.  Hailey is just eighteen years old and an attractive young lady who spoke with confidence from the heart.  There is no outward sign of her inner demons but her honesty and frankness in sharing her journey and how she is managing and helping her peers was compelling listening.
Jasmine (Jas) is twenty years old and the Senior Students Lunch was her first time speaking in public.  As a very young child, Jas thought she had had a happy and loving family home and that ‘life was perfect’.  But it wasn't.  At just five years old she watched her father die and sometime later found out both her parents were serious drug users and that her father had over-dosed.  Her mother didn't cope and became an alcoholic (as well still taking drugs).  By the time she was eight years old her mother had gone into rehab and her seventeen year old brother had to take care of her (he already had his own family having become a father at fourteen).  Jas suffers from anxiety and depression but finds it very satisfying to work with students and teachers in local schools.
For any young person needing help they can go to the website www.iamhope.org.nz.  Counselling and other services are available at no cost.  Both speakers made a significant impact on the audience and afterwards there was plenty of conversation as everyone enjoyed a fish ‘n chip lunch.  We also appreciated the thank you and beautiful waiata from the school students.