We love Wednesday’s inspirational young woman for a number of reasons. Laura O’Connell Rapia has been a fearless, tireless and kick ass advocate for issues spanning multiple fields including environmentalism, human rights, youth voting, rainbow and women’s rights.
She believes in the power of dreaming big to create the future we want to see, and her impressive articulate voice combined with incredible talent have led her to being heralded as the new face of activism in NZ.
She’s currently director of ActionStation, where she has helped build a 140,000+ strong digital community of Kiwis committed to a fairer, more sustainable NZ. But that’s not all, in 2014 she was a participant in the Live The Dream accelerator program for young social entrepreneurs, which birthed the youth enrollment program, Rock Enrol.
The program was focussed on increasing the voter turnout among young people in NZ. It did this by shunning traditional forms of voter encouragement, instead holding series of concerts for young people – the only condition of entry being that you had to enroll to vote. The program was supported by over 1000 young people over NZ, and was credited with increasing the voting demographic in that area by 7% from 42 to 49%.
But it’s not just her impressive and tireless community focussed work that we love about Laura. We also love her relentless “possibilism”, which is her invigorating attitude that life is full of possibilities which we have to believe in and strive for. It’s a truly refreshing outlook in what feels like increasingly mad bad and weird times.
What’s more, is that we love how open Laura is about her journey. She’s talked openly about being a teenager who felt she was drifting, who found direction through training as a peer support for sexuality mentor and also through music. She’s open about the struggles of growing up, how young people disenfranchised, but also about the endless possibilities to connect and integrate young people to create changes. It’s nice to have role models like Laura who don’t sugar coat the experience of becoming a change maker, but live and act and speak with honesty and integrity about their experiences.