YOUNG achievers Zal Kanga-Parabia and Emily Hardbottle have been lauded for outstanding contributions to their communities after winning WA Youth Awards last month.
Mr Kanga-Parabia (20) was presented with the Cultural Endeavours Award for founding and producing the Youth Music Program at the Mandurah Performing Arts Centre, as well as his volunteer work helping young people who have experienced homelessness tell their stories through photography.
Featured in the Melville Times last month, Emily (16) was the winner of the Commissioner for Children and Young People Participate Award after founding the Melville Wheelchair Basketball Program. She also helps care for sister Lauren, who has spina bifida.
Mr Kanga-Parabia said he felt inspired to give back to his community after experiencing the benefits of mentorship first-hand.
“As I’ve gone through high school and uni, I have had a lot of people willing to mentor me and teach me things and seeing that kind of mentality has made me want to help others realise their goals,” he said.
After being exposed to homelessness during a year spent in rural India, Mr Kanga-Parabia was moved to give a voice back to some of society’s silent sufferers.
“In Year 12 I had a photography project that involved making up and photographing an issue but I thought I would do a real one instead,” he said.
“I went into Perth and photographed and filmed some stories from young homeless people, focusing on the way they wanted to be portrayed and how they wanted to tell their stories.
“I think giving people an outlet like that can really push them to excel.
“One of the guys I mentored as part of that project, Jonty, actually took a photograph that was presented to all of the winners and finalists at the Youth Awards, which was really special.”
Emily said she was looking forward to expanding the Melville Wheelchair Basketball Program and building on her work with Carers WA.
“Early next year we’re planning to produce a few videos promoting young carers and highlighting the services available to them,” she said.