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Robbie Francis wins 2009 "Attitude ACC Supreme Award"

Jane Pickering - 04/12/09


Robbie Francis, a passionate youth advocate, has won this year's "Attitude ACC Supreme Award".

The Waikato University student was presented with the trophy by Sir Murray Halberg and Associate Minister for ACC and Disability Issues Pansy Wong at a black tie function at Eden Park in Auckland. Sir Murray founded the Halberg Trust, which was set up to link people with a disability to sport and active leisure and to honour sporting excellence.

Sir Murray Halberg, Robbie Francis and Pansy Wong at the presentation of the Attitude Awards
Sir Murray Halberg, Robbie Francis and Pansy Wong at the presentation of the Attitude Awards
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It was Robbie's second award of the night, having first won the Attitude Youth Award. Robbie (20) has phocomelia syndrome, which means she was born without several bones in her legs. After major reconstructive surgery she now wears a prosthetic limb and lives knowing her other leg may also need to be amputated one day.

"I prefer to think of myself as challenged rather than disabled. I absolutely thrive on challenges," she says.

Robbie has already been to Bangladesh doing volunteer work with disabled children and has taught English in Calcutta slum schools.

Robbie Francis (right) pictured at a school in Calcutta
Robbie Francis (right) pictured at a school in Calcutta
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She sponsors a World Vision child with a similar condition to hers and looks after a seven-year-old girl with severe cerebral palsy three days a week.

Robbie's next challenge will take her to the Middle East for a year using a full scholarship awarded to her by Rotary International. She will study conflict resolution and peace studies.

She recently completed a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in world religion and human development at the University of Waikato.

The Attitude Awards celebrate the outstanding achievements of New Zealanders living with a disability and have grown out of the Attitude TV series, which screens on TV ONE on Sundays.

Other Attitude Award category winners announced on December 3, World Disability Day, were Karen Michalanney (Spirit Award), Matthew Aitken (Courage in Sport Award), Paula Tesoriero (Sport Performer Award), Glynne MacLean (Artistic Achievement Award), Julie Bartlett (Community Award), Blenheim Foods (ACC Employer Award), Robert Martin (Attitude Hall of Fame) and Mackenzie Kench (Person of the Year Award).

Attitude TV associate producer and presenter Curtis Palmer says the awards are a recognition of the achievements of people living with a disability - people often overlooked by society, who have long been used to just getting on with life.

ACC is the principal sponsor, supporting the Attitude ACC Employer Award and the ACC Supreme Award.

"ACC was extremely proud to be the principal sponsor of these Awards," says Dr Jan White, ACC Chief Executive. "We work closely with people who live with disabilities every day, and hear wonderful stories about rehabilitation and injured people returning to their jobs and their communities. Now, with these Awards we have the opportunity to showcase and celebrate the achievements and determination of the finalists."

The Lion Foundation supported the awards for the second time as well. Chief executive, Phil Holden says the foundation is focused on giving back to local communities through projects and causes that make a real difference.

"These finalists have truly excelled in the areas of business, sport and life and deserve this special recognition - they are an inspiration to all," Mr Holden says.

Southern Cross Healthcare, Air New Zealand, Invacare, Westpac, Wayne Francis Charitable Trust, Perry Foundation and Drake Medox also support the awards.



 
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