Our social justice ambassadors
Three University of Adelaide students have been singled out by the St Vincent de Paul Society for leading the way on social justice issues.
Lucky Giirre, Bec Taylor and Jessica Wright were last month named Vinnies Award Ambassadors for 2010 at the charity's second annual Social Justice Awards night.
The three students were among a select group of four, chosen as ambassadors from 15 young adults in South Australia who are all "making a difference" in society.
Lucky Giirre, 23, a Law and Languages student, is a Somalian refugee who in 2008 co-founded the Muslim Girls Kollective in Adelaide, a ground-breaking initiative aimed at giving young Muslim women and refugees the opportunity to access educational and recreational activities in their community.
Lucky coordinated a series of workshops and social activities for the group, including talks by various people about accessing higher education pathways, learning basic life skills, and advice on relationship, social isolation and identity issues, among other topics.
In July, she presented a paper on this project at a World Health Promotion Conference in Geneva, after successfully being selected ahead of 3000 other applicants.
Bec Taylor, 20, a double degree Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Science student, has been instrumental in lobbying the University to become a Fair Trade accredited campus.
Fair Trade is an organised social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries obtain better trading conditions and promote sustainability.
In May, Bec organised a Fair Trade and Social Justice Expo on the North Terrace Campus, which brought a large number of not-for-profit organisations onto campus to liaise with the students.
Bec also runs a website called Socially Justified (www.sociallyjustified.com), which contains resources and stories about a range of social justice issues, including ethical investments, military conflicts and other moral discussions.
Bachelor of Science student Jessica Wright, 19, is a Vinnies Youth volunteer and has spent the past three years working with disadvantaged children in Adelaide's southern suburbs.
Jessica's volunteering journey started in 2006, when she spent several months in the Moroccan city of Salè working as an art teacher for children outside of the mainstream education system.
As a Vinnies Youth Leader she has participated in numerous camps and activities for disadvantaged students, or those at risk of social exclusion.
At the awards night held at Nazareth College, Lucky Giirre spoke on behalf of the four Ambassadors, telling the audience that helping others had many positive outcomes.
"If you support, encourage and believe in young people, they believe in themselves and then anything is possible. Volunteering doesn't just help others; it boosts your own self-confidence in so many ways and is extremely fulfilling," she said.
Catriona Standfield, a double degree student in Arts and International Studies, was also nominated as a Vinnies Youth Ambassador for her work in nuclear disarmament, human rights, the Red Cross, and many other social projects.
St Vincent de Paul Society CEO John Haren described the Ambassadors as "a shining light to young and old".
"They represent many young people who make a difference for others. As well as being our future, they are already young leaders creating a fair and just community," Mr Haren said.
Story by Candy Gibson