Zara Blackmore

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“We can’t do everything, we can’t do nothing, but we can all do something”… NEGS student Zara Blackmore is definitely doing something! Community-minded, passionate, focused, and an advocate for local youth, mental health and those less fortunate in our community, Zara has been recognised with a 2019 National Council of Women NSW Dame Marie Bashir Peace Award …

Hi Zara. By way of introduction, tell us a little about yourself, your family and your background in Armidale …

I have lived in Armidale all my life, and I started at NEGS in Transition in 2006, where my mum was working as a secondary teacher at the time. My mother now works at the University of New England, and my father works with the NSW Department of Primary Industries. 

Whilst I have been at NEGS for my whole schooling, I was also fortunate to spend two months at a school in Paris, as part of the Round Square Exchange Program. 

You’re currently completing Year 12 at NEGS. What are your favourite subjects/activities both inside and outside of school?

My favourite subjects at school are Visual Arts and Community and Family Studies. I really enjoy learning about people and their societies and how they respond to their world. 

Outside of school, I have always enjoyed cooking, and I used to work as a baker making cakes for a local café. I have a passion for music and sing in choirs with my school and at NECOM. I have also been a part of Gondwana National Choirs for six years.

How did you feel when you found out you’d been awarded a 2019 National Council of Women NSW Dame Marie Bashir Peace Award?

I felt excited and honoured to be placed amongst the young women who have achieved such great things for their communities. The Dame Marie Bashir Peace Award is awarded to students who are exceptional in their activities to lead others in harmonious relationships and ardently pursue social justice, and I feel humbled to be the recipient of such an award. Serving my community is a significant part of my life.

I have learnt a lot from my service work. There are so many wonderful people in our world who do great things to help others in need. There is an inspiring quote which I think sums up my view: “We can’t do everything, we can’t do nothing, but we can all do something”, and if we all do something, the world will be a better place.

You’ve been very active supporting youth and the community as a whole locally. As an example of this, how have you been able to assist the Ezidi refugees who recently arrived in Armidale? 

Over the last year, I have made many Ezidi friends. The Ezidi people are kind, generous and sincere, and they make the best flatbread on the planet! In my volunteer capacity, I have worked to source vital items for Ezidi families, that so many of us take for granted. 

When hearing of a family who had recently arrived in Armidale with their small baby and nothing but a suitcase, I worked to source donations of baby equipment and toys for this family. I was touched by the generosity of the Armidale community, who are so willing to help out. 

I have also helped the Ezidis build their vocabulary and grammar, and to practice spoken English, which complements their more formal language lessons. I don’t really see myself as a volunteer, but now more as a friend to the Ezidi people. 

What does your role as Chair of the Armidale Regional Youth Advisory Committee involve?

As a committee, we are the voice of youth concerns for our region. We organise a number of free events for young people aged 12 to 24 years of age and work to convey a youth perspective on issues facing our community. As chair, I help the committee fulfil this role by chairing formal meetings and assisting with communication between young people and Armidale Regional Council. 

What would you say have been some of your proudest achievements?

Delivering my “Journey that makes me” speech to the NEGS student body would have to be one of my proudest achievements. At NEGS, there is a tradition that each Year 12 student is given the opportunity to share their life journey to the rest of the school; this is called the “Journey that makes me” speech. Reflecting on what I have learnt over my 13 years at NEGS, I spoke on how school is not just how to write a good analytical essay or understand Pythagoras (although those are very useful skills which I do now possess); but also, the ability to form strong and lasting friendships, to know that your worth is so much more than a number given to you on a page, and that with courage and perseverance we can all become the best people we can possibly be.

Looking at the impact I could have, sharing my life experiences, I have now commenced the training process to work as a speaker for the youth mental health organisation Batyr. 

What motivates you/inspires you the most?

Seeing people who are changing the world every day inspires me to become more active in creating change myself. My parents inspire me to continue when, at times, I have felt I could not. The people I surround myself with every day are a constant reminder to strive to make a difference. 

This year, I was fortunate to attend the Luminosity Youth Summit with the support of Armidale Regional Council. Hearing from people who have overcome personal adversity and those working to make other people’s lives better has definitely inspired me this year.

What plans do you have when you complete your studies at NEGS?

Through the Leaders and Achiever Scheme, I have received an offer of early entry into Macquarie University to study a double degree in Cognitive and Brain Sciences with Psychology. 

Exciting things await, as I venture into the world. 

Thanks, Zara.

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