YMCA Auckland was thrilled to have three co-ordinators from their youth development programme, Raise Up, honoured in the inaugural I Am Auckland Awards. The I Am Auckland Awards recognise the work of individuals and youth organisations that support the region’s children and young people.
One of those people is Emma Ghaemmaghamy, Raise Up Coordinator at Lynfield Leisure Centre managed by YMCA Auckland, won the Rangatahi Tu Rangatira Award, for the best youth worker or organisation that builds and supports the next generation of young Maori. Emma was nominated for “constantly pushing above and beyond to empower everyone around her… spreading the amazing message of personal courage, perseverence and encouragement.” As well as being a youth worker for YMCA Auckland and heading up the Raise Up Programme at the Lynfield Centre, Emma teaches music for Maori Performing Arts Te Wananga O Aotearoa.
The young people that nominated her, descirbed Emma as an inspiration and credited her for “truly being the change the world needs”. One young person summed it up well by saying: “I am nominating Emma because of the impact she has had on my outlook on life and because of what she represents.”
About her nominations and subsequent winning of the I Am Auckland Rangatahi Tu Rangatira Award, Emma says “To learn of my nomination was incredible enough; to have won is overwhelming. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to work with young people every day, strive for positivity, and be the change. We can’t know who we are until we know where we have come from.”
Held on Friday 25 July 2014, the awards also marked the launch the I Am Auckland Action Plan, which sets goals that will accelerate the prospects of young people in Auckland, ensuring the city offers an environment for them to be the best they can be. The I Am Auckland Plan and Awards were developed by young people, for young people, which echoes the ethos of YMCA Auckland’s Raise Up programme, where young people are responsible for planning and coordinating fun, safe, drug and alcohol-free events and initiatives that benefit young people in their community.
“I Am Auckland challenges society to put children and young people first,” says Youth Advisory Panel Chairperson Flora Apulu. As one of the most active and engaged youth programmes in Auckland, YMCA’s Raise Up lives and breathes this everyday, empowering and supporting young people to be the best they can be and reach their full potential.