ASHA Rojahn was shocked but “excited and also a little bit emotional” to find out she would have the honour of being part of the Queen’s Baton Relay in the lead up to this year’s Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast.
“I was unaware I had been nominated but it was then revealed my partner Ben had nominated me,” she said.
“He nominated me for the work I do in the community for children with autism and their families.
“I really did feel honoured they chose me out of thousands of applicants.
“The baton has been in the hands of some absolutely inspiring people and I simply cannot believe it will be in my hands this weekend.”
Ms Rojahn is a fulltime early childhood mainstream teacher at St James’ Anglican School in Alkimos and in her spare time, she supports many families who have children with autism.
She also works at the Autism Association of WA on Saturdays where she runs social skills groups and she is completing her master’s degree in Autism Studies.
“I started working at the Autism Association of WA as a 17-year-old,” Ms Rojahn said.
“I had no experience in the industry and had never really heard of autism before.
“This is what ignited my passion in education.
“I just found there was such a wide gap in the education system for supporting children with autism.”
She said her work in autism had taught her to “look at things through a different lens and to celebrate differences”.
“I believe autism is an area where there is so much misunderstanding – there is so much more work that needs to be done to create an inclusive society and I will continue to strive until I reach this goal,” she said.
Fellow Craigie residents and sports stars Travis Nederpelt and Brandon Ford have also been nominated as baton bearers.
Nederpelt represented Australia in swimming at the 2004 Athens Olympics, where he came eighth in the final of the men’s 400m individual medley, and the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
He is also an eight-time winner of Swim Thru Rottnest.
Ford is being recognised for his success on the athletics track.
Last year, the youngster was named the men’s under-16 300m Australian champion and set five WA records in the 1500m and 300m and in 2016, he was the runner-up Australian cross country champion for uner-16s.
He has also won multiple WA championships over the past five years in the 1500m and 300m events and cross country events for the past four years.
This year he added winning the WA All Schools Triathlon to his list of achievements.
The City of Joondalup’s leg of the Queen’s Baton Relay will be this Sunday, travelling north along West Coast Drive from Beach Road and continuing to Whitfords Avenue where an end-of-day celebration will take place at Whitfords Nodes Park in Hillarys from 4pm.
The event will include children’s activities and food trucks with musical acts Bernardine and Stillwater Giants taking to the stage.
On Monday, the relay travels from Quinns Beach Primary School through Quinns Rocks and Mindarie to a community celebration at Quinns Mindarie Community Centre between 9 and 11am.
There will be a community celebration at the Wanneroo Civic Centre’s Jacaranda Amphitheatre from 11.30am to 12.20pm.
Local residents taking part in the City of Joondalup’s leg of the Queen’s Baton Relay: Bradley Fraser (Carine), Brandon Ford (Craigie), Travis Nederpelt (Craigie), Asha Rojahn (Craigie), Jeremy Caspersz (Duncraig), Hayley MacNaughton (Duncraig), Sally Pilbeam (Edgewater), April Walsh (Hillarys), Allison Nankivell (Kallaroo), Vincent Pettinicchio (Kallaroo), Craig Butterworth (Marmion), Christine Cougan (Marmion), Lyn Foreman (Marmion), Ian Plummer (Mullaloo), Andrew Ridley (Mullaloo), Cassandra Burrell (Padbury), Susan Cowell (Padbury), Andrew Bannister (Sorrento), Gail Wright (Sorrento), Belinda Hall (Warwick).