The Catholic Agency for Justice, Peace and Development

New Zealand youth challenging themselves to make a difference

Event date: 
29 Mar 2017

While many of us ask ourselves what we can do to help those in need, young Catholics around New Zealand are making a difference by stepping into the shoes of the most vulnerable and taking on the Caritas Challenge. 

An annual event aimed at raising awareness about social justice issues in the world, as well as raising funds for organiser Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, the Caritas Challenge encourages youth to undertake an activity for a 24-hour period that gives them an insight into what people living with poverty and injustice experience on a daily basis.

The nationwide event will be launched this weekend (31 March - 2 April) and will run for six weeks until 14 May, 2017. During this time, primary and secondary schools, Catholic youth groups and university students will hold their own ‘challenges’.

Based on four themes outlined by Caritas - Move It, Live It, Sweat It and Stop It - participants design their own ‘challenge’ based on one or more of the themes, such as sleeping overnight in cardboard shelters as a Live It Challenge to experience what living without a home feels like.

Each year there is also a focus on a specific country or region in which Caritas is delivering development programmes, and this year the focus is on communities in the Pacific struggling with the impacts of climate change. 

St Joseph’s School Feilding is taking on the Caritas Challenge for the first time and is tailoring their event around climate change issues.  

“Our whole school of 135 students will be taking part in the activities on Friday [31 March], with our senior class staying overnight to complete the 24 hours through to Saturday morning,” says Therese Petersen, Director of Religious Studies at St Joseph's School in Feilding.

“We hope that the students will learn to appreciate the very real challenges people just like us are having to face due to the effects of climate change, and that we can all do something to help make a difference.”

The students' ‘challenges’ will include a water-carrying activity to help them “gain an appreciation of water as one of the most precious and life sustaining resources people have”; not using any devices or screens for the day to appreciate what it is like when there is no power or internet; and trying to live for a day without plastic.

All funds raised during the Caritas Challenge in 2017 will go towards supporting the people of Kiribati, where Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand is delivering programmes focused on health, climate awareness and youth leadership, training for women, developing sustainable livelihoods, and agricultural training for youth.

Games and activities are also developed by Caritas to teach participants about living conditions in the Pacific, particularly in Kiribati.

Launch event by region

When:       31 March
Where:      Baradene College (4th year in a row for Baradene) -  180 students
What:        All Yr 10 students at Baradene will participate in various challenges throughout the school day. 

Palmerston North 
When:        31 March
Where:       St Peter’s College -  100 students
What:         Students will participate in the Live It challenge and sleep overnight in cardboard shelters. 

When:        31 March
Where:       Challenge 2000, Johnsonville - 50 youth group members
What:         They will be doing the ‘Live It’ Challenge and sleeping in cardboard boxes overnight at Challenge 2000 in Johnsonville, and will incorporate ’Move It’ and ‘Stop It’ Challenges during the weekend. 
                   They will also have a variety of speakers and activities related to Kiribati, and discuss social justice issues throughout the weekend. 1-2 April

When:        31 March
Where:       Marion College & Cathedral College
What:         Sleeping in Cardboard Boxes, an Opening Mass and learning about Kiribati. Giving time in doing service (Young Vinnies, Nazareth House & JPII Centre)

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