Paekākāariki teenager Sophie Handford, who led the recent School Strike 4 Climate campaign, will be standing in the upcoming Kāpiti Coast District Council elections.
“I’m putting myself forward as a candidate because I want to advocate for healthier relationships between our seniors and youth, transitioning the council to carbon neutral status and the development of a workplace programme for students leaving school,” says Sophie.
Sophie will be running for a seat in the Paekākāariki-Raumati ward which is currently held by Janet Holborow.
The other policies she would like to focus on include fostering walking and cycling as a regular mode of transport, encouraging the development of community housing and supporting local businesses.
Former Raumati South School teacher Steve Aiken has welcomed Sophie’s announcement.
“Sophie Handford is one of the most inspired, energetic and empathetic people I have had the good fortune of knowing. Her presence would enrich any council,” says Steve.
Sophie is a prominent figure in the community. She served as Head Girl of Kāpiti College in 2018, volunteers for the Paekākāariki Housing Trust and inspires others with the Kāpiti Future Leaders Programme. However, her most significant role to date was coordinating New Zealand’s School Strike 4 Climate, which saw tens of thousands of students strike and march on government to demand action on climate change.
Kāpiti College Principle Tony Kane said Sophie would be an asset to the Council.
“Those making decisions for our community should reflect the diversity in it. Sophie brings a youth voice, but with a maturity that belies her years,” says Tony.
Meanwhile Kāpiti College Board of Trustees Chair Cas Carter says Sophie had already made a major impact on Kāpiti and was guaranteed to continue.
“Sophie has already proven herself to be a leader of her generation locally and nationally. She has a strong vision and is tenacious enough to see things through,” says Cas.