Garin College student Kira Evenden is training to become a youth mental health advocate. Photo: Charles Anderson.

Kira to become youth mental health advocate


A Garin College student, who took her speech about mental health online after she was not allowed to speak it at the school’s annual arts festival, is now training to become a youth mental health advocate.

Last month Kira Evenden, 15, posted her speech online, and in the Nelson Weekly, where it was seen by the chief executive of Changing Minds – a non-profit organisation dedicated to inspiring better mental health in New Zealand.

Kira was then invited to take part in the organisation’s Rākau Roroa programme which helps trains young mental health leaders of the future. She is the only person from outside of Auckland taking part in the intensive course, which explores issues like human rights, discrimination, and well-being.

“It’s a big course but I’m really enjoying it,” says Kira. “It is all about how to voice your story while looking after yourself and your audience at the same time.”

She says the hope is that they can inspire others with mental health issues to feel confident to voice their own stories.

“They give you the skills to see what you can do in your own community.”

Kira says, in the wake of her speech, Garin College has been especially supportive of her and what she wants to do in the future.

She is planning on working in mental health and hopes to study psychology at university after her college days.

“So this is a really great opportunity.”