A group of Nelson College students are working together to destigmatise youth suicide while aiming to raise $50,000 to go towards the Key to Life Charitable Trust.

Each year students from Nelson College organise a fundraising event for a charity of choice. In the past the students have donated to the Cancer Society, Red Cross, and the Fifeshire Foundation.

This year, the students want to tackle mental health and raise awareness for youth suicide.

“We thought Key to Life was really relevant this year,” says head boy Liam Brennan.

Started by New Zealand comedian Mike King, the Key to Life Charitable Trust is a community peer support group, aiming to change the way New Zealanders think, act and feel about mental health and suicide.

The students on the organising committee for the charity auction say that mental health is one of the key issues that they know young people are facing.

“It is something that everyone is affected by,” says year 13 student Tom Murray. “There are boys in out there, in our student body, who are at risk.”

The students will be approaching local businesses to support the auction, by buying a table and donating items to be auctioned off on the night. Comedian and mental health advocate Mike King will be the guest of honour on the night.

Locals Steve Page and Kevin Cross will host the event and aim to have 20 items of significance to auction off.

One of the student organisers Stanley Page-Bates says that he took lessons learnt from organising a fundraising quiz night last year.

“I took that, and I saw areas that could be improved on. For example, using the network that comes with Nelson College, the old boy’s network, and parents of boys who are business owners,” Stan says.

“I thought we could utilise that in a way that would be beneficial not only to the school but to charity too.”

Liam says that it is important for the fundraising to be student-led.

“The boys can relate a lot more to us. The boys are a lot more willing to get behind something like this if it’s us students doing it – they’re part of a team. When the staff are doing it, it can be really easy to feel alienated,” Liam says.

The boys have set themselves an ambitious target – they want to raise $50,000 to donate to trust.

“I want this auction to be the biggest fundraiser this school has ever had,” says Stanley.

Principal Richard Dykes says that he is thrilled with the way the students have championed that cause.

“This is a fantastic leadership opportunity for the students, and they really are just going for it.”

The charity auction will be on Thursday, 24 September starting at 7pm. Tables of 10 will be priced at $800, while single tickets will be $80. Anyone who wants to donate goods or services can contact sales@waimeaweekly.co.nz or Steve on 0275449448

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