Australia Day 2016 – Meeting top young achievers!

Australia Day is a special time in our nation, it’s a chance to reflect on how lucky we are to have the opportunities presented to us, and also to recognise the achievements of others through various Australia Day awards, and importantly welcome new citizens as they officially become Australian’s.

This year, on the day prior to Australia Day, Monday January 25 I was asked to attend the Sunshine Coast Australia Day awards ceremony, which was held in Bokarina, Sunshine Coast as a nominee for the ‘Young Citizen of the Year’ award. It was extremely humbling to have been nominated, and I must thank my grandfather Phil for putting my name forward and then attending the event with me, along with the rest of the Wings Around the World team.

The WATW team ready for the awards ceremony
The WATW team ready for the awards ceremony

Being my first time at this event I wasn’t sure what to expect, however it began with a welcome from the traditional owners of the land, the Gubbi Gubbi people before the ceremony kicked off. The winners for each category, including Environment, Community Program, Sports and Creative Awards as well as my category were then announced, with each winner receiving rousing applause before making a speech.

While I wasn’t named the Young Citizen of the Year, Nathan Tessman (AKA ‘MC WHEELS’) and Brooke Pratt shared the top honour, and they are certainly two very deserving young people, and it is flattering to have been considered alongside them.

Nathan is a young rapper with a rare condition called ‘Spinal Muscular Atrophy with Respiratory Distress Type 1’ (SMARD 1), which affects his ability to perform every day physical actions that we take for granted. His condition has no cure, so he faces an uncertain future. Despite this, he continues to inspire our generation with his music. Meanwhile Brooke is an advocate for increased road safety measures, a role she has embraced since she was the sole survivor in a road accident in 2006. She has been working hard to put a safety message out there.

All nominees received a certificate on the day
All nominees received a certificate on the day

Both Nathan and Brooke really embody what WATW is about, that youth can achieve their dreams, no matter how big or small. Age, size and circumstance are not limiting factors; instead they lie only as challenges worth overcoming for a final outcome.

Between some of the awards being given there were speeches from individuals who have had an impact on the Sunshine Coast communities. Some of these included last year’s ‘Citizen of the Year’ award recipient and also the Sunshine Coast Australia Day Ambassador.

For those of us that did not take out the overall title, we were invited on stage to receive a certificate to recognise our nomination.

Again I would like to congratulate Nathan and Brooke on their awards, and I cannot wait to continue hearing about how they are going, while I myself continue preparation for my world flight.