Abi Symes


"Mental health issues have been my biggest challenge, when I left high school I had a mental break down and literally couldn’t leave the house."

Coming through these challenges, Abi wanted to advocate for the voices and perspectives of young people in her community. She ran for the general election, and then on the night of the results decided to run for Mayor of Palmerston North at age 20. Whilst she didn’t get in, but learnt a lot from the process.

Abi now works in youth development, and as a Coach to supporting young people in her community to use their voice, and develop their social entrepreneurship and leadership capability as part of the  Future Leaders programme run by Inspiring Stories.

Key steps in the journey

Abi was born and raised in Palmerston North. Throughout high school and into early adult life she experienced anxiety and mental health challenges. Coming through this, she wanted to become a champion for other young people who experience challenges. She has also working to become a champion and advocate for inclusion and safety for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

Abi ran for Council in the Palmerston North City Council election, and then decided to run for Mayor at age 20. Whilst she didn't get elected, she learnt a lot from the process.

Abi worked as a radio show host on Massey University's student station, and now works as a youth worker as part of Inspiring Stories' Future Leaders programme.