Royal honour for Otago student

Ashleigh Smith receives her Young Leaders Award from the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Photo: Getty...
Ashleigh Smith receives her Young Leaders Award from the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Photo: Getty Images
Otago anti-bullying campaigner Ashleigh Smith has been presented with a young leaders award by the Queen.

The 19-year-old from Naseby in Central Otago was among 60 people given the Queen's Young Leaders Award at a ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London on Friday.

The award recognised her effort leading the New Zealand initiative "Sticks 'n Stones" to reduce online bullying within schools.

Ms Smith spent the past fortnight in the United Kingdom attending the Queen's Young Leader Award residential programme, which included a suite of workshops designed to enhance recipients' work areas and projects in their home countries. 

The group called on such organisations as Redthread, the BBC, AMV BBDO, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Facebook and Google, among others.

The programme also included meeting with senior government officials at 10 Downing St and the Commonwealth Secretariat.

"Ashleigh's work in New Zealand with Sticks 'n Stones to reduce online bullying in New Zealand schools is inspirational, and perfectly reflects her compassion and drive to make New Zealand and the world a better place to live in," said Brad Olsen, executive director of Commonwealth Youth New Zealand and New Zealand's Queen's Young Leader for 2016.

"Her work stands out for its ability to directly change young New Zealanders' lives through addressing a major issue facing everyday Kiwis.

"Her dedication to working with others makes Ashleigh a role model for others throughout the Commonwealth to engage with their communities and work towards shared solutions."

Sticks 'n Stones is an organisation that focuses on positive action to avert the risk of cyber-bullying and aggressive online behaviour.

Ms Smith was also working with the Government to help inform their policymaking on bullying and social media.

Sticks 'n Stones already had 300 young volunteers and Ms Smith hoped to be able to expand the initiative to every school in New Zealand.

She was also studying to become a nurse at Otago Polytechnic.



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