Five former Waikato participants win international award in Sydney

16 November 2016

Five former participants of the Waikato University and Ko Awatea leadership programme have received an international award in Sydney for a youth wellness movement at one of the largest health conferences in the world - Ko Awatea’s Asia Pacific (APAC) Forum.

The three-day forum organised by Ko Awatea unites global thought leaders with frontline teams from across Asia Pacific to lead healthcare transformation.

The five participants were initially grouped together while studying Waikato Management School’s Postgraduate Certificate in Public Sector Management which is offered to Counties DHB staff. As part of the course project, the participants joined forces with Te Kaha O Te Rangatahi – a youth organisation in Manurewa, and a co-designed youth driven wellness movement named ‘YouMeNZ’.

Launched through social media, ‘YouMeNZ’ hopes to inspire and empower rangatahi (youth) aged between 15-24 living in Counties Manukau to lead healthy lives through enabling them to connect, talk and share stories about good health.

There are over 15,000 Māori aged 15 – 24 years old living in Counties Manukau, many of whom have poorer health outcomes compared their peers. Research conducted by Counties Manukau Health discovered that the health system’s traditional methods of communication has resulted in missed opportunities to engage with rangatahi.

The five Waikato graduates and co-creators of ‘YouMeNZ’ won the Health Equity Poster Award and received $500. The winning poster was designed by youth leaders from Te Kaha O Te Rangatahi.   

Posters at this year’s APAC Forum covered several key themes including technology, leadership, efficiency, equity, community care and lessons and innovations from different industries.

Winning team member and Communications Adviser at CM Health Janet Haley says that as healthcare professionals, we can learn a lot from our youth.  “We can start by better understanding the ways our rangatahi communicate,” she says.

“Receiving the Award was a real honour and a testament to what can be achieved when using co-design to reshape health messages, traditionally considered as ‘uncool’.”

The ‘YouMeNZ’ team also presented its new initiative at the Indigenous Health Conference in Hawaii earlier this month.