Thursday, July 1, 2010


I feel so lucky to live in New Zealand. In the latest Global Peace Index report we have been named the worlds most peaceful nation for the last two years.

Although we have a population of only 5 million people, we excel in the global arena at sport, with the all time olympics rating (per capita) putting us as the #11 most successful sporting nation in the world; ahead of Australia (#12), UK (#20) and USA (#28).

We have a history rich with innovators and adventurers. We were the first country in the world to provide women the right to vote, the first to conquer Everest, to split the atom, and even the first to fly (eight months before the Wright Brothers)!

We're in the top 5 for best places to live for quality of life, top 7 for environmental performance, top 4 for educational performance, and in my opinion New Zealand is also the most beautiful place on earth.

So it comes as a surprise that there's a darker underbelly to this story. I read today that NZ faces real challenges with our youth. In a piece titled Addressing the paradox of youth in The Press, Sir Peter Gluckman and Harlene Hayne refer to the challenges we face as a nation to help our youth 'weather the storm of adolescence'. I found it a fascinating read, and was very much encouraged by the closing message of the article, regarding the importance of early childhood education:

There is increasing evidence to show that social skills and emotional development in adolescence are affected by the quality of early childhood education and experience.

Better social and emotional skills contribute to higher rates of high school completion and reduce adolescent involvement in risky behaviours.

Countries that place greater emphasis on the development of these skills from early childhood appear to have lower levels of adolescent morbidity.

Or in other words, our commitment (time, love, energy, education) to our young children has a significant positive impact on their adolescent years.

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