'People need to start talking about it' - Small-town Kiwi sisters receive royal awards for anti-bullying work

Two sisters from Naseby, Otago, are will be acknowledged by the Queen after creating an anti-bullying programme for youth going through tough-times. 

Naseby sisters receiving special recognition from the royal family for their work. Source: Seven Sharp

Ashleigh and Courtney Smith have had some dark days.

When they were in Year 9 and 10 there were three suicides in their community in an eight month period. 

"It was the most horrific thing I've ever been through and it's still something that affects me today," Ashleigh said. 

Courtney's parents also found her diary which said she did not want to live anymore. 

"People need to start talking about it because when I was 10-years-old I felt as though it wasn't okay, I was never told that if you're feeling sad it's okay to talk about it, and I just felt so isolated and so alone," Courtney said. 

After their experiences, they set up an anti-bullying programme called Sticks N Stones for young people, run by young people. 

"The saying is Sticks n Stones will break my bones and words will never hurt me, but we wanted to make people think with that because words actually do hurt," Ashleigh said. 

Courtney has picked up a 'Princess Diana' award for her efforts and Ashleigh will be getting her award from the Queen in the flesh. 

Where can I get support and help from?

Below is a list of some of the services available which offer support, information and help. All services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week unless otherwise specified.

Lifeline 24/7 – 0800 543 354

Kidsline (aimed at children up to 18 years of age, available 24/7) – 0800 54 37 54

Depression Helpline (24/7) - 0800 111 757

Healthline - 0800 611 116

Samaritans - 0800 726 666 (for callers from the Lower North Island, Christchurch and West Coast) or 0800 211 211 / (04) 473 9739 (for callers from all other regions)

Youthline - 0800 376 633, free text 234 or email

What's Up (for 5-18 year olds; 1 pm to 11 pm) - 0800 942 8787 - includes The Journal online help service - visit the website, email or free text 5626. This is a 24/7 service.