For Holly Atwood, it is important to overcome difficulties and make the most of life. The 26 year old lost most of her sight as a child, but is an inspiration to others by how she has taken on challenges and succeeded.
"I have a vision impairment, which was the result of a brain tumour that was diagnosed at the age of 10. Having been through this has inspired me want to help others with disabilities."
Music has always been an important part of Holly's life. She is a talented musician, who plays both guitar and piano. For her, music allows her to show people who she really is.
"I feel free to express myself through music. I feel more comfortable getting up in front of a group of people and playing guitar than I would giving a speech."
This love of music has led Holly to be a part of StarJam, a music and performance based charity for young people with disabilities. She is a member of StarJam's band, and this has led to Holly recently performing at the Tauranga multicultural festival. Alex Barrett , Programmes Coordinator for StarJam has been impressed with Holly's talents and willingness to help and motivate others to succeed.
"Holly has been involved in StarJam for several years. As one of our older Jammers, Holly is a vital role model to other members of StarJam. She is so incredibly talented and has never let her disability define her. Holly is a key part of most StarJam events and she continually blows people away with how talented she is. The other Jammers just love to watch her perform."
Holly recently completed a certificate in Social Services at Wintec and is looking to continue her training and become a counsellor. She is already volunteering her time in the community to help other young people with disabilities. She sees this as a way to help other people through difficult and challenging situations, and hopes to continue this in the future.
"I want the people I am helping to know they don’t have to be alone. It's good to help these people understand how to make their needs known. I feel like I am making a difference."
Holly's ability to overcome significant adversity has enabled her to be someone that can inspire other young people to do the same. Holly's advice to other young people with disabilities is to be confident to share who you are with others.
"It’s important that young people with disabilities are prepared to put themselves out there. If you can learn to use your voice and make it heard, you can achieve a lot of things."