University of Canterbury (UC) third year law student, Erin Gough, is a Youth award finalist in the New Zealand Attitude Awards.
The Attitude Awards celebrate people living with disability making the most of life as well as those who support them.
Gough, 20, has cerebral palsy and is making significant contributions to improve her Christchurch community. Growing up in South Africa, which was transitioning from apartheid to a multi-racial democracy, and her personal challenges in a wheelchair have fuelled a desire for equity in the world.
``Before the earthquake I wasn’t really active in anything, but I am now. It was the earthquakes and experiencing that whole thing and the Student Volunteer Army. While it was great I couldn’t join in the physical work so I kind of looked for other ways to contribute in Christchurch and to the recovery and the rebuild,” Gough says.
The eight awards include the Attitude ACC Supreme award, Sports Performer of the year, Courage in Sport, Artistic Achievement, Youth, Spirit of Attitude, the Attitude ACC Employer award and the Making a Difference award. Winners will be announced at a gala event in Auckland on November 29.
The Attitude Awards have grown from the television series Attitude, which screens throughout the year on TV One on Sundays.
Last year, Gough won the won the Ernst and Young Excellence Award for organising an event, The Amazing Race: The Accessibility Edition, which was held at UC.
With a friend from the UK she has been awarded a grant from the Oxfam International Youth Partnerships Fund to create an online international network - www.indyspace.org - for young people with disabilities.
``I am currently seeking and collating blog posts from young disabled people around the world, which will be posted on the site as soon as we finish the design,’’ Gough said today.
She is also a blogger for Be. Accessible, a member of the Otautahi Youth Council and is also the Vice President of JCI Christchurch, a local chapter of a worldwide non-government organisation focused on building youth leadership and working to ensure Cantabrians between the ages of 18 – 40 make a difference in their community.
``I kind of met different people and just got involved. I think it’s such a great opportunity and as a young disabled person I had a role to advocate for a more accessible city.
``When I finish my time at UC I would like to put my law degree to use by doing a job that involves creating social change through advocating for a local not-for-profit/non-governmental organisation, around human rights and disability issues. But I may end up practicing some type of law - perhaps related to human rights and disability issues.’’