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Vodafone Foundation awards three new tech grants to help Kiwi youth

26 Oct 16

The Vodafone Foundation's first ever technology development grants will fund Zeal, Gamelab and Sticks'n'Stones, who will develop programmes designed to help Kiwi young people. 

The grants mark Vodafone's 25th anniversary, and will help recognise visionary Kiwis who are using tech to change young people's lives and the three recipients will receive financial and technical support from the Vodafone Foundation as their projects develop over the coming months.

“We recognise the impact of digital technology on the young people we support, and both the challenges and opportunities of the online world. We’re lucky to be in a position to support innovative kiwi organisations that are using technology in meaningful ways to make a difference to the lives of our young people who might otherwise not have access to the help they need," says Vodafone Foundation chair Antony Welton.

The three recipients include Zeal's online mental health project Live For Tomorrow; Gamelab's collaboration with Wellington High School on online programming courses; and Stick'n'Stones' online project designed to provide support to those affected by bullying.

Zeal, Auckland: Zeal has been developing Live For Tomorrow, a mental health project that offers immediate and personal support to young people through social media. It uses a method called Online Crisis Intervention.

“We are excited to have the support of the Vodafone Foundation to help us realise our goal to give young people in crisis a place to seek help. Research shows one in four young people are online almost constantly  and an overwhelming percentage of New Zealand young people said they had seen others post about a personal crisis online," says Elliot Taylor, Zeal advocacy and communications manager.

“We believe every young person disclosing a crisis on social media should receive support when and where they need it. With suicide being the leading cause of death amongst youth worldwide, it is apparent that many young people simply aren’t receiving the support they need,” Taylor said.

 Gamelab, Wellington: Gamelab will be working with Wellington High School on a project that provides online courses and gamification to teach basic programming and game design to youth in high deprivation areas.

“Today’s digital divide is between consumers and makers. Young people living in lower socioeconomic areas are being left without the opportunities to pursue careers in digital industries like game design," says Gamelab CEO Dan Milward.

“Our initiative brings students and industry together and empowers young people to help their peers to have access to the same skills and opportunities that they do, regardless of where they live or whether they can afford it,” Milward explains.

Sticks’n’Stones, Central Otago: The project will provide an intuitive web tool to help young people affected by bullying and harassment. Youth have had a role in co-designing the tool, and will continue to do so right throughout project development and construction.

“The project began through a desire to make help more accessible, relevant and targeted to vulnerable young people who are being affected by bullying, harassment and other online issues," says Karla Sanders, Sticks'n Stones coordinator.

Our research showed 48 per cent of young people being affected by bullying behaviours were not sharing it with anyone and instead trying to cope alone.With funding from the Vodafone Foundation we’re able to research, develop and test our online tool and ultimately lead young people to get the help they need,” Sanders concludes.

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