Umi Asaka, OUSA International Officer, was one of three recipients of the Inclusion and Diversity Award at the NZ Youth Awards last week.
Described as a “social justice warrior,” Umi Asaka was credited for actively challenging societal perceptions of what young people with diverse life experiences can do. Umi is an active member of The Lucy Foundation, a charity committed to empowering people with disabilities. Umi supports the New Zealand-based charity through fundraising, inclusion and diversity consultations, public speaking, marketing, networking and raising awareness on the rights of disabled people around the world – championing against exclusion, discrimination and marginalisation.
Living with osteogenesis imperfecta, Umi uses an electric wheelchair to support her independence and mobility. In December 2017, Umi travelled alone to Colombia, Mexico and Cuba to spend several weeks with The Lucy Foundation team in Pluma Hidalgo, working alongside indigenous coffee farmers and people with disabilities to help create training and employment opportunities within the local coffee industry. Umi has been volunteering for social and environmental causes since the age of 13 through numerous not-for-profit organisations including the Red Cross, the University of Otago UniCrew, and Re-evaluation Counselling.