We are extremely proud and pleased to announce that our very own Graeme Dingle Foundation Bay of Plenty Project K alumni Jess Collins received the Prime Minister’s Exemplar Award at this years New Zealand Youth Awards. This award recognises a young person who has overcome adversity to succeed both personally and in their contributions to their community.

Receiving this award, Jess was celebrated for her outstanding character and resilience, and as an inspiration to her peers; Jess is passionate about supporting Māori mental health and preventing suicide within her community. As a young person, she experienced adversity and challenging conditions. She was selected for Project K in 2012 and fully embraced the opportunity to grow and learn new skills.

Since taking part in Project K, Jess has gone on to do amazing mahi within her community and around the country. She is passionate about supporting Māori mental health and preventing suicide within her community. As a young person, she experienced adversity and challenging conditions. She was selected for Project K in 2012 and fully embraced the opportunity to grow and learn new skills. In 2018, she created and led the Mana Whenua Hikoi where she walked 668km over 21 days to honour the 668 people who died by suicide in Aotearoa New Zealand in 2017. Through this initiative, Jess raised $2,500 for Lifeline and heightened awareness of a mana whenua approach to suicide prevention. She continues to contribute many hours as a volunteer in her community, alongside undertaking full-time study and part-time work. Jess is also an extraordinary artist and her exhibition Resilience – Jessica Collins & Symphony Rimaha in collaboration with The Incubator Creative Hub is opening on July 6th.

We have always been very proud of Jess and in 2017 she was awarded the Sir Edmund Hillary Youth Achievement Award at our annual Graeme Dingle Foundation Excellence Awards. Jess’ story is a great example of the impact the Graeme Dingle Foundation can have for New Zealand’s young people.

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