ACC Mates & Dates

A healthy relationships programme for secondary school students.

Aidan Ritchie

Challenge 2000 is one of several partner agencies currently providing the Mates & Dates programme to secondary schools in the Wellington region, helping young people to have healthy and happy relationships.

Mates and dates is going to be hugely important for not only the secondary school students we teach, but for all of the relationships they have or make further down the line. I feel incredibly lucky to be in a position to facilitate such awesome growth opportunities to the nation’s young people.

As a 20 year old bloke, after going to high school parties, pubs, and out to town, spending time in football club rooms and even just in everyday life with people I know, I wish that these Mates & Dates programmes could have rolled out sooner. The notion that EVERY secondary school student will be taught about what consent is and how to recognize it really excites me. If we could teach every young person what a healthy relationship looks like, how to respect their own mana and their partners, about the different types of sexual orientations and gender identities, and how to help both the survivor and perpetrator of abuse, I am confident we could make a change within New Zealand society that is so desperately needed. 

We have some of the highest rates of domestic violence in the world, and as a responsible society we have to acknowledge that so many of our young people are exposed to sexually violent behaviors and toxic relationships, be that through their own boyfriend/girlfriends or by witnessing it in their own whānau. 

It is incredibly exciting to be a part of such a wide-spread, prevention-based program. This transcends “Not being abusive” but dives into the realms of self-care, self-help and all the different ways we can make relationships as positive and beneficial for ourselves, not only in romantic relationships but in our relationships friends and family, and how to help them with theirs in a safe way. There is infinite room for improvement in how we treat each other and how we behave in an open-minded way in an inclusive manner. People love who they love, are who they are and want what they want. That is true within everyone, and the differences in between are quite minor in comparison to this overwhelming common ground. 

For information visit the ACC Mates & Dates initiative page here…

Aidan Ritchie is a Youth Worker and Mates & Dates facilitator for Challenge 2000.