by Georgie-Anne Cox

“Remember, your diagnosis does not define you!” 

I was honoured to accompany one of our exceptional youth leaders, Jasmine White, at the University of Canterbury as she received the Community Engagement Award and the Outstanding Contribution to Equity and Diversity Award at the Tohu Kahurangi Blues Awards 2023. Sitting alongside national champions and para-olympians, Jasmine received a highly coveted award in recognition of her outstanding contributions to community engagement and unwavering dedication to promoting equity and diversity. 

Jasmine WhiteThe Tohu Kahurangi Blues Awards, a tradition dating back to 1913, have been a way for the University of Canterbury to acknowledge students who excel in endeavours beyond the classroom. The award’s symbol, the manaia, embodies the concept of kaitiakitanga, representing guardianship and recognising both the ancestral heritage of the awardees and their responsibility to perpetuate positive change, both personally and within their communities.

Jasmine has been a pivotal figure in the development of our youth advisory group. Over the past few years, this group has undertaken numerous impactful projects. Notable accomplishments include the creation of a new resource – a journal for children and youth with juvenile idiopathic arthritis and other rheumatic conditions. The group also co-designs our annual teen and family camps, in addition to convening monthly meetings dedicated to fundraising, awareness campaigns, and advocacy initiatives.

It is worth noting that this marks the second consecutive year that Jasmine has received the top award for her outstanding contributions to equity and diversity. In her acceptance speech, she moved the large audience with her heartfelt words: 

“You possess the power through your actions and words to shape someone else’s vision of tomorrow.” 

Jasmine extended her gratitude to her family, friends, fellow youth advisory group members, and Arthritis NZ for their support and collaboration. It is a privilege to work under such a meaningful organisation. Jasmine said, “I hope to help change the lives of young people with Arthritis”.

Congratulations, Jasmine! Your dedication and hard work make Arthritis NZ immensely proud, and we eagerly anticipate witnessing your continued leadership and impact on the lives of children and young people throughout Aotearoa.

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