Zara Matthews is one to watch


For her efforts Zara was awarded the Fred Hollow’s NSW Junior Ambassador for 2019.

1 0
Read Time:5 Minute, 15 Second

In Year 2, St Philips Christian College Gosford student, Zara Matthews, listened intently as her school principal spoke at assembly about a mission trip to Kenya.

Year 10 student Zara Matthews

By Tracey Hawkins

The principal recounted stories of meeting orphaned and impoverished children who were attending Stewards Light School and Mission in Action.

The principal’s description of life for students from these schools resonated with Zara so much that, following the assembly, she spent her lunch time asking for donations to help.

Zara raised seventy cents for her first effort.

When she got home, Zara’s mother, Penelope, asked where the money in her bag came from. After Zara explained what she had heard that day and how she wanted to help the Kenyan students, Penelope contacted the school who in turn asked for a fundraising proposal.

After the proposal was approved by the school, a branding brainstorming session followed with Zara and her dad, Scott, and it was agreed that the aptly named ‘KenYa Help Day’ was a winner.

The school community quickly came onboard with the fundraiser. The first KenYa Help Day was held in June 2015.

“NBN news came down and filmed a story about the day. We had lots of stalls on the basketball court – we had games, hairspray, face painting, preloved toys, and books. All the stalls were run by kids in my grade. Everyone was excited,” Zara said.

With Zara’s parents, other families, and school staff looking after the cakes, coffee and snags, the event raised an impressive $2,000.

“The initial amount was divided into $1,000 for each school,” said Zara. “Later that year some of our teachers went on a mission trip to the schools and took the money with them.”

Buoyed by the funds raised, Zara was eager to run KenYa Help Day the following year. The school community once again came out to support the cause.

Since then, KenYa Help Day has been held every year but has also raised money in diverse ways – annual Mothers’ and Fathers’ Day stalls, mufti days, sausage sizzles and participation in the annual Bay to Bay run.

“We had to adapt our fundraising during the COVID lockdowns. We found the Bay to Bay marathon an effective way to keep the day alive. One of our teachers, Mr Holmes, trained for months and ran the entire 21km course.”

 Zara’s commitment to making a difference has inspired other students to fundraise for the Kenyan schools.

In 2022, Year 12 students helped raise money to buy a cow, a calf, and chickens.

“Then they realised the schools needed chicken coups as well, said Zara. “So, they held another fundraiser.”

KenYA Help Day has raised over $30,000 so far, with the funds used to help the schools with services and provisions such as teacher’s salaries, student supplies, purchasing equipment for the school’s bakery, and adding to their dairy.

“The funds help towards making the schools self-sufficient,” she said.

For her efforts Zara was awarded the Fred Hollow’s NSW Junior Ambassador for 2019.

The award recognises students in Year 6 who make a positive difference in their community, celebrating those who show compassion, integrity, and kindness in their everyday lives.

Zara said meeting and being presented with her award by Fred’s wife and Foundation Director, Gabi Hollows, was an amazing experience. Zara has continued her association with the organisation. During 2020 she participated in Fred’s Big Run to help raise money for the Foundation.

In 2021 Zara was one of nine finalists in the NSW International Women’s Day Award ‘One to Watch’ category. This award recognises girls and young women who demonstrate a single act or ongoing acts of courage, strength, determination and/or kindness to help and support those around them.

“I was surprised to be nominated and to become a finalist. I did not expect it. We got to participate in the International Women’s Day conference and meet lots of interesting and inspiring young women,” said Zara.

With such a positive approach to making a difference, in March 2022 Zara was named as one of five young people selected as a member of Central Coast Council’s Youth for Youth action team.

As part of the Central Coast Council Youth Strategy, the members meet regularly to provide feedback on issues such as the environment, community connection, mental health, wellbeing, and youth employment.

“We also participate in leadership and skills-development programs,” said Zara. “Our team runs the Council’s annual youth forum – the 2023 event is being held in May.

“We discuss issues which need to be fixed. Issues that affect our young people on a day-to-day basis.”

The group was part of the Kariong revitalisation project consultation which included the creation of the new Kariong skate and pump park at Kariong Oval.

“As part of the Youth for Youth Action Team, we have also created a podcast named ‘Voices of the Rainbow’,” said Zara.

“This is an LGBTQ+ education podcast designed to help people to learn about the experiences of different queer people, help people understand the terminology and to help people who are questioning to figure out who they are.”

With over 50,000 young people aged 12 to 24 living on the Central Coast, Council Administrator Rik Hart said the team was an important platform for young people to have their voice heard.

“Programs such as the Y4Y action team are an innovative and collaborative way to ensure young people’s voices are heard, acknowledged and accounted for”.

Now in Year 10, Zara is ensuring KenYa Help Day continues after she leaves St Philips.

“The school has said our Year 8 leaders will be the organisers of KenYa Help Day once I leave, so I know it’s going to be in good hands”.

As for her future, Zara would love to visit the Kenyan schools who have benefitted from her mission to improve the well-being of others. And while she believes fundraising will always be a part of her life, she has not considered a career in the not-for-profit sector, leadership, or politics.

With such maturity, compassion and vision, no matter which path Zara Matthews takes, she will be one to watch.

0 %
0 %
0 %
0 %
100 %
0 %
Next Post

<strong>In the shadow of a lethal time bomb</strong>

The problem is that the EPA licenses covering Vales Point allow them to emit up to 850mg of NOx/m3, 99% of the time, and emit up to 980mg/m3 for 1% of the time. This is 6 times the European Union’s annual average limit for existing coal power stations of just 150mg/m3 and 4 times the United States annual average limit.
Coals ash dam

The Latest ESG Headlines Delivered Straight To Your Inbox

Each week we will send our latest daily news, weekly deep dives and special reports directly to your inbox via our newsletter so you don’t miss out on a thing. The newsletter is sent each Wednesday and it’s free.