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Passion leads to NZ Youth Award

General Manager of the Ministry of Youth Development Juanita Te Kani and the Minister for Youth Rt Hon Peeni Henare presenting Jaskiran Rahi with the NZ Youth Award
General Manager of the Ministry of Youth Development Juanita Te Kani and the Minister for Youth Rt Hon Peeni Henare presenting Jaskiran Rahi with the NZ Youth Award

A Middle School student on a mission to empower girls has received a top award for her efforts.

Jaskiran Kaur Rahi received a New Zealand Youth Award for her work with her organisation, Spirit & Soul.

Jaskiran started Spirit & Soul last year after being the only girl at a coding holiday programme when she was younger. She felt uncomfortable in the situation and did not want other girls to feel the same way.

Since then, she has held three events for girls her age. The most recent was a workshop in September where girls learnt selfdefence, first-aid and how to change a tyre.

Jaskiran received a New Zealand Youth Award for Te Raukura – Inclusion for her events and work with Spirit & Soul. She was one of 14 young people from around the country to receive an award.

Jaskiran says she did not know she had been nominated until she found out she won.

“It was an extremely humbling experience, and I couldn’t believe it when I got the news.

“The award was amazing recognition for the work I have done with Spirit & Soul over the last two years and has encouraged us to continue crafting more events to reach more young women.”

Jaskiran says the experience was “absolutely amazing”.

“It hadn’t sunk in that I had actually received the award until the day. Before the awards ceremony in the evening, the recipients had the opportunity to meet the Governor General, Dame Patsy Reddy, and attend a leadership workshop in the morning.

“In the evening, we met some amazing people and had the chance to listen to some amazing speakers, including Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Kendall Flutey, founder of Banqer.”

Jaskiran says she looks forward to Spirit & Soul bringing events to more girls in the future.

“Receiving this award gives me and Spirit & Soul greater credibility in a world where a lot of people have trouble putting faith in young people. The award also comes with a financial grant that will really help Spirit & Soul reach more young women around the country.

“We would like to run two or three more events within the next year, and in the future, we would like to take our events to other regions to ensure we are reaching as many young women as possible.

“We also recently launched our website, which will help us reach a wider audience. We would like to develop our website further so we can publish content to further empower young women who cannot attend our events – and therefore reach as many people as possible.”