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Now 23 and President of the UCRed club, the Red Cross club at Canterbury University, Kerri reflects on his journey with Red Cross which started with a bus ticket when he was 17.
After the Canterbury earthquakes, Kerri travelled to Dunedin and stayed with friends. He knew he wanted to help fellow Cantabrians, but wasn’t sure how. While walking past a Civil Defence emergency centre, Kerri stopped to chat to a Red Cross volunteer, who asked if he wanted to go back to Christchurch. With the Student Volunteer Army mucking in, Red Cross were helping send more volunteers back to Canterbury to support those in need. Kerri found himself on a bus back to Christchurch, where he was able to get to work.
Becoming President of UCRed
Kerri says it wasn’t until a couple of years later that he found himself getting involved with Red Cross again. “My friend Jazmine asked if I wanted to be involved in UC Red. Through the club, I went to the Canterbury Youth forum, where I met former refugees and many great friends.”
Kerri ran for the position of UCRed President and won this in 2015. He set to work helping young people realise the importance of being able to help in emergencies when first on the scene. Kerri helped facilitate discounted first aid courses for around 250 to 300 students, who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to learn important live-saving skills like CPR.
Facilitation has been a skill that Kerri’s grown over his time with Red Cross; learning about the governance of Red Cross and travelling to South Korea for the Model IFRC (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent) General Assembly. It was here he met young people from 26 different countries and won an award for outstanding participation.
Opportunities to help
Kerri encourages more young people to take up opportunities to help people in their communities.
“There are many things young people can do. Doing a first aid course is an important life skill and a great first activity with Red Cross. There are also volunteering opportunities like helping deliver Meals on Wheels, becoming a refugee support volunteer and learning about other cultures, or becoming a Disaster Welfare and Support volunteer. Joining a Disaster Welfare and Support team is a great way to learn how to manage high stress emergency situations.”
“I was given lots of opportunities through Red Cross to learn about a large organisation. I’d never experienced this before,” Kerri says. When asked about the future, he says he’ll be handing over the reins of the UCREd presidency soon, but “I want to keep volunteering and keep meeting new people. I want to help other people keep climbing the ladder, to be humanitarians and keep helping out our young people.”