Bereaved Mum Named As One Of Top 100 Kiwibank Local Hero Medallists 2020
Nic Russell founded the charity, Kenzie’s Gift to support the mental health of young Kiwis and their families through serious illness or grief, after her 3-year-old daughter Kenzie tragically died in 2005 as a result of complications due to childhood cancer.
Today, she has been recognised by the 2020 Te Pou Toko o te Tau – Kiwibank New Zealand Local Hero of the Year Award and been named one of the Top 100 Kiwibank Local Hero Medallists for her dedication and work in supporting young Kiwis and their families through serious illness or grief.
This award comes at an exceptionally important milestone for Kenzie’s Gift, as Kenzie would have turned 18 on the 22nd November. Despite many health challenges of her own (including stage 3 breast cancer, cardiomyopathy and Parkinson’s disease), as well as working full-time, Nic has continued to work tirelessly on Kenzie’s Gift for the last 13 years, helping thousands of young New Zealanders.
Nic says, “I feel so honoured and privileged to be named as one of 100 New Zealanders to receive a Kiwibank local hero award.
"Kenzie’s Gift was inspired by the life of my daughter Kenzie and what that experience taught me was there was little in the way of mental health support for young Kiwis and their families facing serious illness or grief.
"I had been very fortunate to meet a wonderful psychotherapist, Maxine Burgen Page, who supported me through the darkest period of my life. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be here without her. I wanted to pay the kindness forward that had been shown to me, and also to create a lasting legacy to honour Kenzie’s short life. So, I established Kenzie’s Gift. The vision became a reality through the dedication and hard work of a lot of people who I will forever be grateful and indebted to.”
Kenzie’s Gift focuses on delivering one on one therapy with registered mental health professionals to young people and their families, in addition to grief packs and extensive online resources. One area that has been exceptionally important to the charity is opening the conversation about grief, to raise awareness of its long-term impacts on young people and the need for the right support at the right time.
They recently launched their #DearGrief campaign which is about sharing what you would like to say to grief and the different ways we deal with grief. Everyone can be involved, no matter where they are. For when grief is shared, it feels less lonely. The charity was honoured to receive a poignant and personal letter in support of #DearGrief by HRH the Duke of Cambridge which you can read on their website: https://www.kenziesgift.com/webpages/the-duke-of-cambridges-letter/
find out more about the work of Kenzie’s Gift, please
Registered charity number: CC21425