LookUp 2016 featured young people’s stories showcased in a Hall of Inspiration, which celebrates young people who inspire their communities by succeeding in adversity.
Angelee has come a long way to where she is now. Angelee has been through a lot for a young person her age from being bullied. Now Angelee has overcome and has grown as a young person inside and out and is doing really well.
At school, I have seen Angelee be helpful/supportive towards other students in her class such as sharing her lunch with students if they don’t have any lunch.
Angelee’s long term goal is to carry on with studying after Alt Ed; to get university entrance and study English Literature and Business studies which will lead her into owning her own publishing firm one day.
This is the reason why I am nominating Angelee because her strength to overcome adversity and be an inspiration to other young people.
Yasmine grew up in West Auckland with her mother. When Yasmine was a teenager her mother separated from her partner and withdrew which left Yasmine feeling like her mother didn’t care about her anymore. She didn’t like school, started wagging and began drinking because there was nothing to do at home. She got addicted to alcohol, drinking daily. She dropped out of school and gave up her dream to dance. She felt her attitude changed her into someone she never wanted to be.
One night she jumped into a stolen car with a drunk driver, who crashed. Yasmine luckily was unhurt. It wasn’t until Yasmine got pregnant at 17 that she realised she had to stop drinking. She went back to school when she was pregnant and through the support of a teen parent unit she finished NCEA. In 2016 Yasmine started studying Sports and Recreation and has re-ignited her passion for dance. She wants to be a PE teacher and choreographer and travel and work overseas in the future.
In 2015 Yasmine volunteered to be involved in a study into the alcohol and other drug experiences of at risk young people in West Auckland carried out by the Community Action Youth and Drugs (CAYAD) team at Auckland Council. She then agreed to be part of a campaign created to highlight alcohol and drug harms and the themes identified in the study. Yasmine willingly shared her story on video, which has been launched online. Yasmine has some inspirational messages for young people and says that “dropping out of school was my biggest regret” and that “when people don’t have support, like kids, they feel like they’re not cared for, so they don’t care about what they do”.
Tane started drinking alcohol at age nine, smoking marijuana at 11 and most other drugs at 15-16. He started drinking because his father always drank and he started smoking to fit in with his older brother. He felt that it seemed normal to him at the time. Tane left school at 16 as he felt bullied and used drugs as a way to stop thinking about how bad he felt his life was. There were times when he wouldn’t leave house for up to 10 days at a time, staying in his bedroom smoking drugs. At one stage Tane also lived on the streets.
Things gradually got darker and darker and when Tane was 19 or 20 he looked around and felt very alone, with no real friends. One day an old friend offered him help and he gladly accepted it. Over the next 6 months his friend helped re-introduce him to life again, helping him get back on his feet. He says ‘it felt pretty good, like going from a black and white to colour TV”.
Tane got help from a local youth health organisation and in 2016 started working full time.
In 2015, Tane volunteered to be involved in a study into the alcohol and other drug experiences of at risk young people in West Auckland carried out by the Community Action Youth and Drugs (CAYAD) team at Auckland Council. He then agreed to be part of a campaign created to highlight alcohol and drug harms and the themes identified in the study. Tane willingly shared his story on video, which has just been launched online.
In the mere twenty one years Chantal has spent on planet earth, she has already made it a better place for so many people whose lives she has touched. Chantal has overcome many challenging obstacles most of us could never even imagine, and although traumatic events of her past could have determined a hopeless future, Chantal has defied what otherwise could’ve been the fate of living a repetitive destructive cycle, if it weren’t for her sheer courage and strength, and her utter determination to create a better life for herself and her family.
It doesn’t take much for anyone to notice how hard Chantal strives to always give her best, especially when it comes to her children. Chantal’s first child was born with one hand and one “lucky fin.” His condition has never stopped Chantal from instilling into him and his sister that they are capable of doing anything they set their mind to, and what better role model to teach them this important life lesson than their incredible mother who puts negative teenage – mum – stereotyping to shame.
She has accomplished so much at such a young age, and I believe she is proof that it doesn’t matter who you are, how old you are or which cards you have been dealt in life; every person has unique and exponential potential to do great things.
Nicole is a 22 year old young female who is in recovery from her alcohol abuse. She suffered depression and used self harm as a way to manage her own emotions and reality.
Self reflection, commitment and perseverance has kept her on her journey and Nicole has been alcohol free since March 2016. She is determined to face her fears and keep working on her goals and self discovery journey.
William started using alcohol as a young teenager as a way to escape reality after his father went to prison. He started using cannabis at 16 or 17 which then led to harder drugs and at 18 started using meth. He used frequently for 4-5 years and at the same time was dealing with significant mental health issues. He found himself becoming violent and even attempted suicide.
During this time William became a father and he began to realise the extent of this addiction problem when he pushed his partner. After a series of moments where he found himself reflecting on his life, his accomplishments and the responsibility of fatherhood, William reached out and asked for help from his family. He was 24 at the time. His family supported his access to health services which culminated in a 3 ½ weeks stay in a mental health unit. He credits receiving this help from his family and respective health services as helping him to stop using, and has been clean ever since.
In 2015 as William was re-building his life, he volunteered his time to be involved in a study into the alcohol and other drug experiences of at risk young people in West Auckland carried out by the Community Action Youth and Drugs (CAYAD) team at Auckland Council. Following this William agreed to be part of a campaign created to highlight alcohol and drug harms and the themes identified in the study. William willingly shared his story on video and then spoke publicly for the first time at the launch of BUZZED. William is now proud to be in full time employment, has a positive relationship with his daughter and is actively looking for opportunities to help other young people struggling with addiction and mental health concerns.
This young person has overcome adversity in their life to be an inspiration by always managing to put a smile on whoever she encounters. Despite the many challenges and depressing situations she has faced, it amazes me how strong of an individual she is. She is the oldest of two kids, therefore faces an immense pressure of responsibility.
Leafaitulagi is simply my role model. As a young girl, her ability to cope with everything is really astounding. Her busy lifestyle consists of volunteering at Middlemore Hospital and church fundraising, and pianist for her church services every Sunday. Despite the extra church commitments during the weekdays, she still manages to maintain good grades in school. She is such a caring and loving person, and tries her best to provide money/food to any homeless person she may encounter as well.
Leafaitulagi faced a variety of tragedies that once put her in a state of depression, this was when she had lost her beloved Grandma and when she had her first heart break from a relationship. How she overcame these obstacles inspired me to become a better person myself. Not only did she try her best managing all her responsibilities but how she picked herself up from her depressing situations, encouraged me to carry on and move on with life even if things seemed like it wouldn’t get better. Therefore, I nominate Leafaitulagi Toshin, thank you.
Eva is 16 years old. She has one mission in life – to end sexual violence and to support those who have experienced its devastating effects. This mission is even more important because Eva is dying of cancer.
“When you know your days are numbered, it really makes it clear what matters to you. I really want to make a positive difference that will still be helping people’s lives after I am gone – to give more in life than that I have taken.
More of my friends have been sexually assaulted than not – and they had no one to turn to.”
Eva is inspiring others through her activism towards ending sexual violence.
Sexual violence is something that many people are aware of, but find difficult to talk about. Eva is not afraid to stand up and ask tough questions about sexual violence:
“1 in 3 girls in NZ will be sexually abused, 1 in 7 boys. I’m not OK with that. Are you?”
Eva is using her dying wish to raise awareness of the needs of young people who have experienced sexual violence. She has written an open letter to Social Development Minister Anne Tolley asking her to help create an online space for young people to go to where they can be supported and receive help from trained counsellors.
Eva has also set up a givealittle page to raise funds for HELP, an Auckland charity that works with sexual violence. Her aim is to raise $50,000 by the end of September, 2016. Eva wants “a New Zealand that I can feel safe leaving my loved ones in without me being there to look after them.”