Red Carpet Youth Award nominees
KICKING GOALS: Alyssa Kupa, Zach Pearce and Jayden Murphy. Pictures: MARK JESSER They are shouldering care for a sick parent, tripping the light fantastic on stage and kicking goals for people with disabilities … SOPHIE BOYD meets the incredible teens nominated for Wodonga’s youth awards.
A “normal” day for Jayden Murphy is not what you might expect for a typical teenager.
He was just 16 when he became a full-time carer for his father, who hassevere arthritis, post-traumatic stress disorder and has had surgery to remove brain tumors.
Then, just a few months later, Jayden was dealt another heart-breaking blow with the suddendeath of his mother.
Jayden, 17,is one of about 30 young people nominated for Wodonga council’sannualRedCarpet Youth Awards.
Now in itsninth year, the awards will take place on July 28, where winners of the nine categorieswill be announced in front of about 200 people.
Jayden is excited about the gala awards nightbut says it is tough to see yourself as eligible for theYoung Carer and Endurance and Persistence awards.
“I don’t think I deserve to be awarded or rewarded for things I’ve gone through;lots of people go through things, everyone handles it differently,” he says.
Being a young carer for his father, Mark, obviously has its challenges.
There are many rewarding moments.But it has its limits.
“Ican’t go out and do things as much as I’d like but it’s worth it,” Jayden says.
“It helps Dad and he needs that.”
As a carer Jayden takes care of the cooking, cleaningand household shopping, while also helping his father up and down stairs.
Although he shoulders a lot more responsibility than most teenagers, Jayden doesn’t feel very different to his peers.
Jayden Murphy, 17.Dancing through the painSTANDING among the countless dancing awards of fellow nominee Alyssa Kupa is a special kind of souvenir that’s testament to her resilience.
There on her bedroom shelf sits a fragment of ankle bone that speaks of her determinationmore than any trophy could.
At 16, Alyssa –whose mother Sandy calls her “medical child”–has already suffered seven broken ankles, countless sprains and numerous torn ligaments.
Mrs Kupa saysAlyssa has endured a host ofmedical issues, from kidney to heart problems.
Despite everything, she says Alyssa remains grittily determined.
She’s training four times a week, dancing in competitions and volunteering to teach younger dancers atBorder Danceworks.
Sandy Kupa, Alyssa’s mother.A voice for the voicelessFROM kicking up their heels on stage to kicking goals on the field comes fellow nominee Zachary Pearce.
The 18-year-oldis a “legend” on the football field as an umpire in local AFL matches andhead of the Wodonga Bulldogs Jets all abilities football team.
Zach, who has a mild intellectualdisability,has been nominated for an Advocacy and Action Youth Award for his promotion of people with disabilities.
Zach Pearce, 18.
A post on Zach’s Facebook page stating children with disabilities just wanted what everyone else did – to be accepted – reached more than 25,000 people.
He believesit isa very important message and hopes to continue to broadcast his sentiments on the issue.
“It’s good to have a platform through the awards and to get out there more,” he says.
Zach isn’t just talking the talkwhen advocating that people with disabilities can do anything.
He proves it every weekend on the oval.
He’sa familiar face atlocal football matches, having previously completed some work experience for the organisation.
Zach says officials were supportive when he first approached them to becomean umpire.
And there’s nothing better than being out on the ground as a boundary umpire.
“I like that I get to be involved in the game and I’ve certainly made a lot of new friends,” he says.
“It also keeps me fit –I really enjoy it.”
Across nine youth awardcategories, 92 young people were nominated, with 30 selected as finalists.
The awardsfeatureyoung peoplemaking a difference, excelling in their chosen field or putting others first.
Thecategories include: the Individual Community Service Award;Sport and Recreation Volunteer Award;Young Carer Award; Apprenticeship/Traineeship Award;Endurance/Persistence Award;Advocacy and Action Award;Music and Performing Arts Award;Visual Arts and Media Award; and Youth Ambassador Award.
The awards areorganised and run by a committee of seven young people from local high schools, with the support of Wodonga Council’s youth services and events officers.