Ben Matthews - NSW Youth Volunteer of the Year 2016
Ben Matthews is not only a well-liked nurse working in the children's ward at Royal North Shore Hospital he is also a hero to many of the people for whom he volunteers. He has won the NSW Youth Volunteer of the Year 2016 award, from the Centre for Volunteering, for his tireless support of his local surf life saving club, his volunteer work with the rural fire service and his mentorship he provides to children with disabilities.
The 24-year-old gives regular talks at his old primary school to encourage young students to be more self-confident, tolerant and understanding. Ben has cerebral palsy and knows how difficult it can be to integrate at school or into other groups: "I was basically bullied just because I wasn't like everyone else," he said. "But once I understood why I was different and how I could improve my strength, balance and movement I knew I would be okay. I learned to adapt and it doesn't affect me anymore today."
The inspiring message Ben tries to convey to the school students he visits regularly is to just give it a go and never give up. "My goal is to teach him to be more confident and understand that he can do whatever he wants to." Ben overcame his own challenges and set his mind to helping others as a volunteer and a nurse. "I really enjoy looking after kids and the team I work with are truly an amazing bunch of people," he said.