Sticks n Stones

AFQY Supports Sticks n' Stones

AFQY Supports Sticks n' Stones:

"If it is about us, without us, It's not for us"

Sticks 'n Stones was founded in 2013 by young people wanting to to be part of changing attitudes and stopping bullying. We believe change can be created, one person at a time, by empowering young people to develop skills, connections and tools to both challenge and prevent bullying behaviours. To do this, we need to provide regular, high quality and ongoing opportunities and support for young people rather than relying on external experts who are not part of the community and do not stay around.

So how do we do this?

We support Year 7/8 ambassadors who volunteer to take a stand in their schools with a strengths based fortnightly Social and Emotional Learning programme. We do this during school lunchtimes so that teachers do not need to carve out space in an overcrowded timetable and so we have the freedom to create a space that feels different to the classroom. We cover a range of topics that give our ambassadors practical ways of understanding the impact of their words and actions; on themselves as well as on others. We support them to take a leadership role within their schools and to create opportunities to make a positive difference for other students. They feel connected to other people and have ongoing and regular support rather than adults organising and expecting (hoping) a one off assembly or performance to create shifts in thinking or behaviour.

We also support Year 9-13 advocates to take on the responsibility of being the voices for students who feel vulnerable, isolated or helpless because of bullying, harassment or hate. To stand up for themselves and others and to advocate for changes in what we expect in how we relate to each other. Our aim is for respect and acceptance to be the norm and for bullying to be something that we do not accept or expect. These guys also meet every two weeks and are supported to develop their skills and tools as well as creating ideas ands seeing these through. We connect up with other teens in other schools to collaborate and learn from each other both online and in person.

We lobby for young people to be involved in decision making when it comes to bullying and to be actively involved in co design and sharing the messages, ideas and activities themselves. This has led to incredible opportunities nationally and internationally from presenting at conferences to taking over Facebook's Australian offices, from designing, prototyping and creating a board game for sale to pitching for funding for an online tool that combats negativity for young people by young people.

What else are we working on?

  • Our online tool, ICON (In Case of Online Negativity) launches in October. This has been taken from an initial idea to receiving prototyping funding and then development funding by one of our members who at 17 was tired of being judged when she was looking for support (and of having to trawl through pages of information to try and find what she was looking for).

  • Our website is being revamped so that we can develop a members area that has an innovative learning space. We want this online learning space to be accessible to other passionate young people NZ wide and to provide the same high level, ongoing and meaningful support that we would expect in person.

  • We are working hard on our evaluation to keep improving what we do based on what is working (and not working) for our young people

  • We are growing our ambassador programme with taster sessions at new schools

  • We are exploring growth into the Wakatipu and Southland

  • Growing our training modules and reinforcement opportunities for our advocates and exploring how we could link these to NCEA credits

  • Developing our organisational structure and systems to be able to keep up with our plans for growth and expansion (while still holding firmly onto the heart of our work, young people meaningfully involved at every stage)

If you think bullying sucks and are tired of how it robs us of our belief in ourselves and ability to see what's possible, we would love to talk with you and explore how we could work together to make bullying a thing of the past.