For immediate release
Date: 10 September 2015
Buddy Day used as tool to fulfil community transformation plan
In year five of running community engagement event Buddy Day, organisers are excited to announce Buddy Day is back on 13 November 2015 – now in five North Island locations.
Local iwi Ngāti Rangi will host Buddy Day in the Central Plateau towns of Ohākune, Raetihi and Waiouru this year – further widening the spread of the national event’s messages and learnings.
Ngāti Rangi pou arahi (chief executive) Andy Gowland-Douglas was quick to sign Ngāti Rangi Trust up to locally host Buddy Day with the whole community of about 2750 residents invited to take part.
Buddy Day was established in Hamilton in November 2011 by national child advocacy agency Child Matters to start conversations and drive change about the role every adult plays in the lives of children – from preventing child abuse to providing great environments for children to flourish.
Auckland, Tauranga and Wellington joined Buddy Day in 2012.
“As iwi, we are kaitiaki of our region, which means we have the responsibility of not only looking after our environment but all whānau who live here as well,” she said.
“In collaboration with the community, Ngāti Rangi has developed and leads the implementation of the Ruapehu Whānau Transformation Plan – one core aspect of this is wellbeing – and caring for children/tamariki obviously plays a key part.
“The plan is about the wider region taking ownership of issues and coming up with our own solutions. Buddy Day is also about communities taking ownership of this important issue to help tamariki, so it’s a great fit.”
The Trust has engaged seven schools to decorate 100 Buddies which will be adopted throughout the region by adults on Buddy Day. They will also host a short film festival on the evening of Buddy Day with local children invited to create 60-second videos that include Buddies and highlight the event’s key messages.
Gowland-Douglas knew of Buddy Day from her time working in Hamilton at WEL Energy Trust and saw that it complemented the work her Trust was already doing.
“We are really excited to have the Central Plateau region on board for Buddy Day this year as our fifth centre participating in the day. It’s great to see iwi take ownership for the wellbeing of children in their own community in their own way,” said Buddy Day manager Janine Evans.
“In addition to a whole new region getting behind Buddy Day and making a concerted effort to positively influence their children’s lives, we have some excellent support from corporates and household names in the other New Zealand centres as well, so Buddy Day 2015 is shaping up to be a great event again this year.”
Buddy Day is about doing altogether better for kids.
The event involves 1800 adults in the five locations adopting life-size cardboard ‘Buddies and taking them into communities and workplaces. Through the carers, the Buddies will ask people all day: “What one thing will YOU do better for kids in your field of view - today, this week or this year?”
Prior to Buddy Day, the Buddies are created by school children, where they are dressed, decorated, and given a name and story.
The huge negative impact that the mistreatment of children has on the health and wellbeing of the New Zealand population is the main reason principal supporter of Buddy Day, Sovereign, became involved in 2013.
Child Matters chief executive Anthea Simcock tells how in its origins, Buddy Day was created to challenge existing attitudes and behaviours towards the way we value our children, and shift us all towards a society that prioritises the wellbeing of children in everything we do.
“We want to encourage people to do what they can to impact children’s lives in positive ways every day – whether it is making a change for one child, or doing something that will make a difference for many.
“Every child deserves a great childhood, and I believe it is everybody’s business to do what they can to make this happen.
“We know that child protection initiatives such as training, child protection policies and changes in legislation work towards ensuring children in New Zealand can reach their full potential.
“However the reality is that we cannot take a nationwide journey to behavioural change without every person – every community – understanding that it’s their responsibility to do better for all children.”
Participation in Buddy Day is free. Adults can register as Buddy ‘Carers’ and schools can register as Buddy ‘Creators’ at www.buddyday.org.nz