Empowering the next generation to question, investigate and act is an essential contribution to a better future

Dr Jacquie Bay (centre), Director of LENScience, with Hiemata Herman, Masters Candidate, and Siobhan Tu’akoi, Doctoral Candidate, Liggins Institute.

The Sustainable Development Goals address long-term challenges that require the integration of knowledge and expertise from multiple perspectives. Involving adolescents in these challenges is vital. LENScience brings together schools, scientists and health professionals to invest in adolescent empowerment. Through LENScience partnerships, schools facilitate locally relevant learning programmes that support teenagers to become critically engaged citizens. This means young people who have the capabilities required to seek out and make sense of evidence from within and beyond their communities to understand societal issues, and who are motivated and empowered to act on this learning. Through LENScience partnerships, teenagers in New Zealand, Tonga and the Cook Islands are examining evidence about issues associated with the transgenerational nature of health and wellbeing. After exploring cultural, community, scientific and sociological perspectives, many participants are taking and sustaining positive actions. These actions will support the future health of the teenagers, and their potential children.