The 2021 Community Youth Spirit Award recipient is South Otago High School (SOHS) year 13 pupil Sophie Ruffell.
Her commendation reported that Sophie’s contribution to SOHS had been outstanding.
‘‘A natural leader, she is not scared of the hard work and the time commitment required by her many extracurricular activities.
‘‘Sophie’s drive is to help the community. She volunteers for so many things from helping in the school canteen, volunteering for the Cancer Society, coaching netball, to organising major events like the school formal. She is successful at this because of her ability to form good relationships and treat others with care and respect.
‘‘She is a sincere young woman with a strong sense of social responsibility. She has been continuously involved in school, sporting, and community activities.”
Sophie admitted she was a ‘‘bit nervous” about going to the awards ceremony last month.
“I didn’t realise until they read it out, just how much work I do. I just do it because I enjoy helping others.’’
The keen sportswoman helps out wherever she can, both at school and in sport.
“It all kind of started when I came to SOHS. I just wanted to help out as I enjoyed it.”
She started with the children’s cancer charity Canteen and went from there, helping in her classes and year age groups at the school.
“The teachers here are very accommodating and supportive to those who help others out in class.”
Sophie said she loved being part of environmental groups at the school and working on the Keep New Zealand Beautiful clean›up weeks.
‘‘My parents are also really supportive of me as as I’m the second child in a family of seven siblings, of which four are twins. We all help each other out when needed.”
She hoped to continue playing netball when she headed north next year. She planned to study law, psychology and criminology at the University of Otago, aiming to be a criminal lawyer some day, she said.