High achiever to meet Queen
Naseby teenager Ashleigh Smith is proof young people don’t have to live in big cities to achieve their dreams.
The 19-year-old former Maniototo Area School student has been named New Zealand’s Queen’s Young Leader award winner for 2017.
Part of the prize includes a oneweek residential programme in the United Kingdom during which she will be conferred with their award by the Queen, as well training, mentoring and networking throughout the year.
‘‘I am so overwhelmed and humbled and I am really excited to be able to use these resources I have been offered to benefit the community in Central Otago and New Zealand.
‘‘I am just really proud. To come from Naseby - a small rural community - it just shows you don’t have to live in big centres to achieve what you want to.’’
The training and mentoring component of the prize will be valuable for Smith’s work with Sticks ‘n Stones, she said.
Commonwealth Youth New Zealand executive director Aaron Hape said he was thrilled to see the amazing work Smith had led nationally and internationally to fight cyber bullying had been recognised by the head of the Commonwealth, the Queen.
She was the co-leader and vice chair of the board for Sticks ‘n Stones, an organisation that now had 300 volunteers that focused on positive action to avert the risk of cyber-bullying and aggressive online behaviour.
She chaired her local SnS division, organising and hosting events for young people and parents about online life and social media.
Mental health was a passion and she helped mentor young people in schools throughout Central Otago and Dunedin, helping students to run workshops about bullying and mental health. She currently worked with the Government to help inform their policy-making on bullying and social media.
Smith hoped to be able to expand the initiative to every school in New Zealand. She just completed her first year of nursing and planned to use her future career as an ongoing platform through which to raise awareness of bullying, suicide and mental health.
Smith was also a member of Commonwealth Youth New Zealand, and participated in the 2015 National Student CHOGM Programme.