Two Cambridge teenagers will take their place in the 10th Youth Parliament and one can call on her mother for practical advice.
Sophia Goodrich, 16, from Cambridge High School and Meghana Gaddam, 18, of St Peter’s School will represent Taupō’s Louise Upston and Waikato MP Tim van de Molen in Wellington on July 19 and 20 next year.
Sophia’s mother Rachel (nee Brighouse) participated in the first Youth Parliament in 1994, as Bill Birch’s Franklin representative, held to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of the lowering of the voting age to 18.
Then it was only an education day in Wellington. Now it is every three years and runs from March 1 to August 31 with a two-day event in Parliament itself.
Sophia lives in French Pass Road and says she is invested in her country’s future and how decision will affect her generation.
“I can communicate well with a wide variety of people and I enjoy forming new connections.”
The community project she wants to undertake in the electorate is to provide free swimming lessons.
She is a Learn to Swim instructor at Perry Aquatic Centre in Cambridge and will give the free lessons herself.
“Living in New Zealand means swimming is an essential skill in order to live safely and a basic life skill which can bring joy in going to the beach or lake.
“Unfortunately, swimming lessons are very expensive and often those who can’t afford it are Māori or Pasifika the ethnicities that are overrepresented in the statistics for total beach and coastal fatal drownings.”
“I realise this is not a wide-reaching project but it’s something I can do to personally create change. By doing this, I could potentially influence other teachers I work with to do the same or inspire my bosses to set up a programme.”
Upston said Sophia came across as an inspirational person with good positive energy.
She impressed the judges including Upston’s son Mac.
“What struck the other panel members and me the most was Sophia’s high level of engagement and positive energy during the interview.
“Sophia is clearly an inspirational person, and I look forward to mentoring her in the lead up to Youth Parliament 2022.
“I was very pleased with the quality of applications and everyone we interviewed was simply outstanding, especially considering interviews were held virtually,” said Upston.
All applicants would have a role on the Taupō Youth Advisory Group.
“The group’s enthusiasm for youth issues will greatly enhance youth participation in issues that affect them in our communities.”
Meghana lives in St Kilda and is holidaying with family in India.
She was St Peter’s School head girl this year and excelled through her studies and extracurricular activities including volunteering for two years at the Refugee Orientation Centre Trust in Hamilton and contributing to the Model United Nations.
As part of Meghana’s Head Girl role, her responsibilities included planning the Waipā Youth Awards, chairing the student executive and leading the prefect team.
She intends doing either a Bachelor of Property / Bachelor of Commerce in economics and finance conjoint, or a bachelor of property / bachelor of global studies in international relations and business next year, at Auckland University.
Van de Molen said Meghana’s four-minute video, where she gave her opinion on issues facing youth in the Waikato, was excellent and could have come straight from Parliament’s general debate.
“With her bubbly personality and hardworking ethic, I’m sure Meghana will be an exceptional Youth MP for the Waikato.”
Sophia and Meghana will join Te Awamutu’s Brylee Gibbes, who was chosen as Barbara Kuriger’s Taranaki-King Country MP, as a strong Waipā triumvirate.
The 10th Youth Parliament includes Youth MPs selected by each MP and a Youth Press Gallery which will report on the activities of Youth MPs and learn from the Press Gallery journalists about the key role they play.
The Youth Clerk of the House will be at the heart of political decision making, providing advice to Youth MPs, and ensuring Youth Parliament runs as it should learning from the Clerk himself, David Wilson.
The Office of the Clerk and the Ministry of Youth Development – Te Manatū Whakahiato Taiohi runs Youth Parliament.