Duo keen to keep momentum going

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Ethan Reille and Mady Rawson are preparing for a big year.

The duo has been re-elected to lead the Waitaki District Youth Council this year — Ethan as chairperson and Mady as deputy chairperson — for the second year in a row.

They were humbled to be reelected, and continue to build on last year’s strong foundations.

‘‘The way I look at it is, we want to keep that momentum going from what we are already doing . . .making sure that we’re still making big changes out in the community,’’ Ethan said.

Twenty-one youth councillors, from St Kevin’s College, East Otago High School, Waitaki Boys’ and Waitaki Girls’ High Schools, and the community, make up this year’s youth council. Ellen McAtamney (22) was new to the youth council, and would bring a fresh perspective, representing a youth voice outside of school, Ethan said.

Last year, the youth council’s proposal to paint the Ouse St roundabout in rainbow colours to support the district’s LGBTTQIA+ community hit headlines after it was turned down by the Waitaki District Council.

After regrouping, Ethan had presented an ‘‘evolved version’’ of the plan for a mural and it was accepted by the youth council on Monday.

The mural embraces all aspects of diversity and would be designed by youth and painted by local artists. The location is not yet confirmed, but Ethan hoped to have the project completed by the end of April.

It was an exciting opportunity for the youth council to do something big for Waitaki’s minority groups.

‘‘It’s good respect for Tilly [King], I think, who initially brought the idea [to the youth council]. Now she’s graduated and moved on, it’s about continuing her mahi [work].’’

The youth council will also undertake a child, youth and whanau wellbeing project, in partnership with Stronger Waitaki, and distribute a survey to find out the community’s needs.

Mady was passionate about mental health and wanted the youth council to continue to improve the lives of young people in Oamaru.

‘‘I still want to make a space that you feel safe because there aren’t many in Oamaru. Counselling rooms are in places no youth wants to go — it’s not inviting,’’ Mady said.

Ethan and Mady were grateful to have the support of Waitaki district councillors Melanie Tavendale and Hana Halalele again this year.

They wanted to take more of the workload and responsibility off Crs Tavendale and Halalele this year, and have a better representation in full Waitaki District Council meetings.