Gerard Campbell |

Over 180 young people and their supporters from around New Zealand are heading to Nelson later this week for the St John National Youth Festival and Competitions (20-23 April).

The Festival is the major event for St John Youth in New Zealand.  As well as competitions, this year’s festival has a theme of ‘Arts’ and will include a Nelson Arts Showcase on Sunday, where participants will take part in arts-themed events.

For many of the festival participants, the competition day is the key event and what they have been focused on training for since last year.    The three St John Regions (Northern, Central and South Island) are represented by twelve teams who will be tested (as teams and individuals) in first aid, healthcare, leadership, communications, and drill (marching).

Props, make-up and ‘patients’ will be used in every phase of competition to recreate realistic accident and medical emergency situations.  Scenes are staged as realistically as possible so that competitors get to experience how they would respond in actual real emergencies.

“Competing in teams and as individuals provides our Cadets with the opportunity to develop skills and work together from an early age,” explains Sarah Manley, St John’s Director of Community Health Services.

St John Youth is a member-based, uniformed, co-educational programme for six to 18 years old.  Currently more than 7500 people participate in the programme in New Zealand.  St John Youth provides a safe, secure and fun environment where young people can learn first aid, health care, self-discipline, and general life skills. 

“The ethos behind St John Youth is developing skills, building self-esteem and creating a sense belonging.”, Sarah Manley says.  “This is especially pertinent in today’s society, where there are many different pressures and demands on young people.  St John has a proud 90-year history of producing young Kiwis who go on to be productive citizens.”

”We put in hours of training in preparation for competitions, says Cascade Price, St John National Cadet of the Year.  “We work really hard and are proud of our accomplishments. Our youth programme aims to prepare Cadets/kids for life and helps us to be confident in any situation. The most rewarding part for me is watching younger Penguins/members go on to develop and grow in the programme.”

Ms Manley thanked the Festival’s major sponsors for their generosity in supporting St John Youth: Laerdal, Office Max and Nelson Boys College.

 The St John National Youth Festival and Competitions run from 20-23 April in Nelson.

Members of the media are warmly invited to attend: The competition day between 9.00am-4.30pm on Saturday 21 April at Nelson College and the Nelson Arts Showcase between 9.00am-3pm on Sunday 22 April at Nelson College.

For more information on the St John Youth programme, please visit our website at or the St John Youth website at



Gerard Campbell

St John South Island Region Communications Advisor

M 027 567 2083


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