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“We're Not Going To Take It” - GirlBoss Award Winners Turn Pain Into Change

Wellington teenager, Lucia, was last night announced as the Community winner of The GirlBoss Awards.

Lucia, who is chronically ill and has overcome intense physical and mental health battles, has been fighting for the rights of children in Hospital after witnessing first-hand how she felt alone in the Hospital system.

“I have spent over three thousand hours in the hospital, both inpatient and receiving outpatient procedures. Many children who are currently in the hospital can feel like they are not personally seen for who they are. I want to help sick children with feeling like they are 'just another number'”

These experiences motivated her to start her own charity, The Raindrop Project, at just 16.

“We deliver care packages to children in hospitals in the Wellington wider region, to let children know that they are not alone. We have a team of volunteers who handmake items such as soft toys and hearts for these packages. I then assemble these items into packages and deliver them to representatives of the wards around the regions.”

Lucia has personally delivered over 500 packages and over 7,000 items through the Raindrop Project. “We have helped over 400 children and over 100 nurses to feel appreciated and seen in a system that doesn't always value them.”

A nurse who has received the gifts from The Raindrop Project: "It was like Christmas day - the kid's faces just lit up when we gave them the packages. They were digging through the bags to see what was in them and they looked so excited.”

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Lucia wants to inspire more young people to realise that they can overcome challenges and be a shining light to others.

“I had to undergo intense treatment, being seen daily by professionals and on a strict plan. During this time I was confused and lost. I fought something I couldn't see, hear, touch, or feel. I didn't even have enough energy to stand up, but I forced myself to accept help, to stay on the path to getting better. It was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do, but I pushed through and managed to make it far enough that I'm able to be here today.

It was by far the biggest leap of faith I've ever made, and the hardest I've ever fought, but it has also brought the biggest rewards. It was this experience that was one of the cornerstones in why I decided on the specific purpose of my charity. Whenever I think about whether or not it was worth it, I always think of the testimonies I've received from my work. Then, I know it was.”

Lucia is one of 11 phenomenal young Kiwi women (aged between 11 and 18) who were recognised at the GirlBoss Awards last night.

Wellington teenager, Hawwa Niyaz, was also recognised at the Award’s Ceremony for her tireless work knocking on the doors of parliament.

Hawwa, as a head student at Christchurch Girls High School, co-led Students Against Sexual Harm, unleashing a report on sexual harm within high school campuses in Christchurch.

It was the report that shocked the nation - going viral, and dominating headlines for months across every major New Zealand media outlet.

Tens of thousands of parents and students rallied, signing petitions, marching, and even going on strike from school in protest, all to send one message: “We. refuse. to. be silenced.”

Her work has inspired the documentary: "I Stand For Consent.’

The award coincides with growing dissatisfaction amongst Generation Z around how the justice system treats sexual violence victims. Hundreds of thousands of teenagers across the globe, fueled by TikTok and Instagram campaigns, are standing up against their respective Governments’ “archaic” consent laws. On Wednesday, sweeping laws were introduced to Queensland parliament, and now New Zealand teens want similar law changes here.

There is mounting pressure on political parties to deliver “common sense” law changes to protect victims of sexual violence in the lead up to the general election.

Labour and National have both committed to considering affirmative consent legislation, which would effectively shift the onus onto a person accused of sexual assault to show consent was given. Currently, New Zealand only has a definition of what consent isn’t, not what it is, which leaves interpretation up to lawyers and jurors.

This year’s GirlBoss Award winners came from across New Zealand - from Dunedin, Wellington, Christchurch, Auckland, and Twizel.

Each winner received a $1,000 cash grant and was celebrated at a glamorous gala at Auckland’s Northern Club on Thursday Evening (12th of October).

Alexia Hilbertidou, Founder of GirlBoss NZ, says, “We had over 530 nominations from Paihia to Invercargill, and it was extremely difficult for the judges to pick. The acceptance rate was 2% - making The GirlBoss Awards the most competitive award scheme in the country. That’s a lower acceptance rate than Harvard University!”

“We must recognise the contribution of our young women and encourage them to keep striving and pushing for positive change, not only for themselves but for their community, country, and the world.”

Zaria Bourne of Christchurch won the Emerging Leader Award (sponsored by Delta Insurance). Zaria is a golfing sensation. At just 14, she's already scored not one, but two hole-in-ones. She is the youngest player in Waimairi Beach Golf Club’s history to win its senior club championship, winning the title at the tender age of 12. Her dream is to follow in the footsteps of her hero, Lydia Ko.

The STEM Award (sponsored by Orion and Connetics) went to Lucy Butterfield (14, Christchurch) who created a trapline in Akaroa Harbor, accessible only by boat, armed with 35 traps designed to safeguard the precious little blue penguin population.

Seventeen-year-old Lucia Murphy from Wellington received the Community Award (Sponsored by Serato) for her tireless work fighting for children in hospital through her charity, the Raindrop Project.

Advocate Hawwa Niyaz, (18, Christchurch), won the Innovation Award (sponsored by Spark). Hawwa is the co-head of Students Against Sexual Harm, designed to allow young survivors to be supported by their schools and the legal system.

Alfriston College singer, Jaya Rees (13), won the Arts & Culture Award (sponsored by Grandkid Power.) Jaya won 2023 APRA NZ Best Children's Song of the Year Award, sharing this honour with songwriters Mark Casey and Lavina Williams.

Seventeen-year-old Qiana Ram from Wellington received the Trailblazer Award (sponsored by Citycare Property) as the Lead Organiser for TEDx Youth Talks.

Auckland-based Iqra Ali (17) received the Inclusion Award (sponsored by PwC New Zealand) for her work creating safe and inclusive experiences for Muslim girls. She's organised countless initiatives specifically benefiting the Muslim community, including workshops and fundraisers dedicated to the education of Muslim girls.

The Sport Award (sponsored by ANZ) went to national Surf Life Saving champion, Rosie Falcous (17), from Dunedin. Making the Junior Black Fins and representing New Zealand at the World Championships in Italy. She is also creating a new Otago Surf Carnival.

The Activator Award (sponsored by the Ministry for Primary Industries) went to 17-year-old Bianca Bayly from Kaipara College in Auckland, who organised the first ever Kaipara College Ag Day. The event was an outstanding success displaying everything from student's hand-reared animals, wool spinning, and predator control stalls through to gumboot throwing.

Entrepreneur Monique van der Westhuizen (17, Christchurch), of Twizel, was the winner of the Enterprise Award (sponsored by Lyttelton Port Company). Her business, Gold Tiki, creates skincare products using unique ingredients only found in the Mackenzie Basin.

Elaine Zhang (18) from Auckland received the Digital Impact Award (sponsored by Harvey Norman) for founding Z Marketing. A Gen Z marketing agency with a mission to make a big difference. They've created over 70 marketing campaigns, supporting small charities, small businesses and community events.

Ms Hilbertidou is looking forward to following the journeys of the winners.

“What these young women have already achieved is remarkable. I cannot wait to see what they do next, and I know everyone involved is looking forward to celebrating their achievements.”

The 2023 GirlBoss Award winners

Supreme Trailblazer Award - Qiana Ram from Wellington (17)

Digital Impact Award - Elaine Zhang from Albany, Auckland (18)

STEM Award (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) - Lucy Butterfield from Christchurch (14)

Emerging Leader Award - Zaria Bourne from Christchurch (14)

Community Award - Lucia Murphy from Wellington (17)

Inclusion Award - Iqra Ali from Māngere, Auckland (17)

Arts & Culture Award - Jaya Rees from Alfriston, Auckland (13)

Activator Award - Bianca Bayly from Helensville, Auckland (17)

Enterprise Award - Monique van der Westhuizen from Twizel (17)

Sport Award - Rosie Falcous from Dunedin (17)

Innovation Award - Hawwa Niyaz from Wellington/Christchurch (18)

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