Students put social and emotional change on the cards

Issue: Volume 102, Number 12

Posted: 13 September 2023
Reference #: 1HAc6s

Ākonga in Napier have used their Young Enterprise Scheme journey to support the health and wellbeing of others; creating a tool to help young people better express their emotions and lead social change – Pūkare Cards.

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Under the Young Enterprise Scheme, Year 13 students Tom, Liv and Elizabeth created Pūkare Cards. Photo by Adam Gregory.

Visionary business development and mental health are at the core of a Taradale High School trio’s community wellbeing initiative under the Young Enterprise Scheme (YES).

For their 2023 YES competition entry, Year 13 students Tom, Liv and Elizabeth created a teaching and wellbeing tool designed to encourage discussions around feelings and emotions.

The product comprises a pack of 25 emotion-themed cards in English and te reo Māori.

The face of each card has a colourful graphic and designated emotion. The flip side features a scenario with starting points to help parents, teachers, counsellors and other professionals in discussions with youth about their feelings.

One card, that depicts a thrilled figure with sunbeams in the background, is titled “excited/manahau”.

“Ella is feeling excited because she is going to Gisborne,” reads the scenario on the other side of the card. “What should she do?”

Suggested possibilities are “express her excitement to her friends” and “write down some activities and things she wants to do and see when she gets there”.

“What would you do in this situation and why?”

These are starting points for discussion. The student is invited to forward their own scenario should they wish to do so.

“Our business is dedicated to leading important social change,” says Tom, chief executive of the Pūkare Cards project.

“The aim is to normalise talking about feelings and mental health from a young age. We’re aiming for a wide reach into different communities, and to encourage people to speak te reo Māori.”

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Each pack is made up of a box with colourful discussion starter cards with the names of emotions in English and te reo Māori, and an information pamphlet.

Entrepreneurial mindset

The Pūkare Cards enterprise began early last year as part of the YES programme available to Taradale High School’s Year 12 economics students.

The group began with four randomly allocated students. Jasmine was initially part of the team but has since relocated to Auckland.

The programme offers students an authentic learning experience that develops their entrepreneurial mindset and helps build transferable skills.

After brainstorming business ideas for a YES competition submission, the group eventually agreed on the emotion-based discussion cards concept.

“We considered things that would have helped us and of what people need. We’ve all had struggles communicating feelings and that led to the emotion cards idea,” says Liv.

A product that embraced diversity, and was affordable, was a strong focus for the team.

“When we came to deciding on a name, we looked in the Māori dictionary for words to do with emotions,” says Tom.

Pūkare was a good fit. It means to be evocative and express emotions.

Getting it right

The team discussed the cards’ content with two psychologists, says Elizabeth.

“They made sure our scenarios and content were appropriate. A lot of people, including cultural advisors, are involved with the cards’ design and creation.”

“It’s been a long process because we have to check everything is correct,” says Tom. “We contacted Te Whatu Ora, then universities and found a psychiatrist studying towards a Ph.D at Victoria University.

“All our content was checked by Napier City Council councillor and Ngāti Paarau Hapu Trust chairman Chad Tareha. He did all the te reo translations. Although it’s a Te Matau-a-Māui Hawke’s Bay dialect, it’s known throughout the motu.”

Finding a graphic designer who could work within the team’s budget was a challenge. Through an online freelance service, the team contracted a UK based designer.

After about 10 revisions to the graphics, the first Pūkare Cards design was complete. A community grant from Hastings Regional Council funded production of the original 68 packs of cards and information sheets for each pack.

Cards and boxes are printed locally and so far, bundles of four packs of Pūkare Cards have been distributed free to 17 schools.

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A card with a discussion starter in English and te reo Māori for the emotional state ‘excited’. On the flip side is a scenario with starting points to help adults in discussions with youth about their feelings.

The Pūkare initiative

Last term, accompanied by Te Whatu Ora staff, Tom, Liv and Elizabeth visited Tamatea Intermediate. They also recently visited Puketapu School.

The visits were part of the team’s Pūkare Initiative, a youth-led mental health initiative that is a part of the business and brings in the social enterprise aspect, says Tom.

“The Pūkare Initiative was started this year and is separate from the cards. We want to normalise talking about feelings from a young age. We thought a good way to interact with young people, spread our messages and inspire students to speak up would be through this initiative.

“We inspire, empower and encourage the students that it is OK to ask for help and not something to be ashamed of.”

When talking to students, the team opens discussion by talking about their own experiences.

Elizabeth talks about the racism she has experienced while growing up, and Liv talks about her disability and the bullying she experienced at primary and intermediate school.

“I talk about my ADHD and struggles I faced because my brain works differently, which is a good thing, but I felt there was a lack of support,” says Tom.

“We tell our students it’s OK to be different. We aim to give them confidence and inspire them to do so.”

“The goal is to see how these cards could have helped us,” adds Elizabeth.

Presentations to students at the two schools was a matter of trial and error, but went well, says Elizabeth.

The team learned to make their presentations smoother, says Liv.

“We’re used to pitching to adults in a five-minute window but found students got disengaged quickly so we broke it up with activities, like stretches.”

“We’ve started to get feedback,” says Tom. “One suggestion is to maybe create more positive emotion cards.”

Stronger boxes is another suggestion.

“One piece of advice we’ve had is to develop resources so teachers know how to use the cards,” says Elizabeth.

The QR code on the flyer that accompanies each pack links to the Pūkare Cards website.

“In this day and age people don’t want to type out a URL address,” says Liv. “We plan to add more activities to the website, and we plan to upload a PDF teachers can download.”

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Young Neurodiversity Champions at Parliament in March 2023. Tom is pictured on the right.

Leading social change

Now in the second year of participation in the YES competition, the Pūkare Cards team is working on Tongan language-based emotion cards.

“Each year, you’re to come up with a new product or develop an existing product,” says Liv. “So, we developed cards in Tongan as well.”

Some redesign was needed for the Tongan-based cards.

“On some of the cards the emotional states are different from the original pack because they don’t always directly translate,” says Tom. “For example, ‘silly’ doesn’t translate well so we changed it to, ‘cheerful’.

“For the Tongan cards we made sure we used the right phrasing, and we have to make sure we’re not putting our views on them. We also have to do a translation sheet to go with the pack.”

The team updates the youth-led initiative’s social media platforms Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn three times a week, says Liv.

“We post tips and tricks, quotes and other things that might be useful.”

At $22 a pack the team has so far made more than $15,000 in sales. Profit remaining after design and production costs, and the 25 percent tax paid to YES, is put back into product development, says Liv.

“The business is turning into a social enterprise. It’s a business with a kaupapa of leading social change. Our goal is to inspire 1,000 students.”

The Pūkare Cards enterprise was acknowledged at the YES regional awards and national awards evening last year, with the Pūkare Cards team winning the BP national excellence award for social enterprise.

Tom was announced as YES East Coast entrepreneur of the year.

For more information about student leadership, activists and support groups, see the Social ethos and environment section in Mental health education: A guide for teachers, leaders and school boards(external link).

Champions for neurodiversity

Read more about how Tom and his fellow young neurodiversity champions are standing up for the rights of all neurodiverse young people in Aotearoa.

Unlocking the superpowers of neurodiverse learners

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 2:50 pm, 13 September 2023

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