Rural youth leader with a passion for empowerment selected as Waimak Youth MP

Going on a defensive driving course changed rural teenager Hillary Cooper’s confidence to drive on the open road.

The Oxford Area School Year 11 student wants to use her role as Waimakariri’s brand new Youth MP to help other young people in Waimakariri learn to drive safely on the electorate’s open roads.

“I received a very high calibre of applicants to be my next Youth MP,” Waimakariri MP Matt Doocey said. “It was great to have the input of my previous Youth MP, Ellie Tizzard, and Waimakariri District Council Youth and Development Facilitator Emily Belton as two of the judges on the selection panel to make the very hard choice of who would represent Waimakariri’s young people at Youth Parliament.”

Youth Parliament will be held on 19 and 20 July 2022.

“Hillary fronted the interview panel armed with an exciting project she was ready to drive from the get-go to remove barriers for youth in Waimakariri to accessing driver training and learning to drive safely on our open roads,” Doocey said.

“Living in a rural community, Hillary knows how difficult it can be for our young people to access driver training, especially defensive driving skills. She convinced me how important it is for community safety that our young drivers have the skills they need to drive defensively and safely,” Doocey said.

Hillary said young people in Waimakariri struggle to get where they need to be with parents working and driver licence fees and accessibility to lessons often out of reach.

“Growing up on a dairy farm, I know those barriers are very real and I want to see driver training programmes implemented in our schools. This is an issue I want to take to Wellington to raise in Youth Parliament. Defensive driving courses are offered at a cost that is prohibitive to young people, yet they have been proved to increase community safety. Having more courses and mentors will save lives.”

Hillary will be reaching out to young people across Waimakariri to get their feedback ahead of Youth Parliament on 19 and 20 July 2022.