Iuventuti Nil Arduum. The Latin words emblazoned across the Canberra Girls Grammar School (CGGS) crest, is not just there for decoration. The essence of the school motto is the driving force behind their approach to teaching, learning and nurturing students. Translated, it means ‘to the young, anything is possible,’ and Reshmi Senanayake, the extraordinary young woman who is the recipient of the CGGS’ inaugural Principal’s Scholarship, is the embodiment of that saying.
Currently in Year 6 at CGGS, the inspiring twelve-year-old who suffers from hearing loss, has professionally published a book called ‘The Tropical Purple Hearing Aids’ to raise money for charity. To date, she has sold hundreds of books and has been able to donate all the money earned from sales to positively impact the lives of hearing-impaired children in Sri Lanka.
“When I was younger, I had always been keen and passionate to make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate. I have supported a few causes; yet, for me, one cause that really stood out was being able to restore something magical to the lives of hearing-impaired children in Sri Lanka. This magic is the magic of sound, the crystal clear musical notes of a bird’s chirp, the crunch of autumn leaves under one’s feet, and the voice of those around you. I have hearing loss myself and remember hearing those wondrous sounds around me when I was first fitted with hearing aids here in Canberra; yet, I learnt that there were children in Sri Lanka who are deaf and can’t afford hearing aids. In Australia, we are fortunate enough to have a child’s hearing aids paid for by the amazing government organisation, Australian Hearing. I was extremely sad to hear about the plight of these children in Sri Lanka and was keen to make a difference. I immediately wanted to do something and that was when I settled on this cause,” said Reshmi.
“The charity has been able to purchase 5 pairs of hearing aids, which costs over $5000. Meeting the recipients of the hearing aids was a true blessing indeed. It just truly melted my heart to see their faces light up with pure joy as they laid eyes upon the hearing aids. I realised how grateful we should be to live in such a wonderful country like Australia where we have been provided with so many resources. I felt a swell of emotions – gratitude, empathy, sadness and happiness – to see those four children with the brightest eyes filled with hope, before having lost the magic of sounds around them, but now holding two objects, small in size yet big in power, that made their world whole. I recall a boy who had only been given the old-fashioned hearing aids, a big box with many wires, restricting him from playing sports and running around. Yet here he was, with hope in his eyes holding a brand new set of hearing aids. I remember them all smiling. I was smiling too.”
The energetic writer has also this year launched an initiative called ‘HospiTales’ in partnership with Canberra Hospital. The voluntary program for students at CGGS Junior School will see participants write short stories and picture books for children currently in Canberra Hospital to read.
This is the first year CGGS has awarded the Principal’s Scholarship, with Reshmi being the inaugural recipient for the 2019 school year. The Scholarship’s recipient was chosen by the School Principal, Anne Coutts and aims to recognise people who have done extraordinary things that have positively impacted on society.
“Reshmi has a strong sense of social justice and translates that into practical steps to make a difference to others. She is creative, achieves well academically and is a leader to her peers. For all of these reasons, she is the inaugural student to be awarded the Principal’s Scholarship.” said Ms Coutts.
With a long and proud tradition of offering scholarships to girls, the Principal’s Scholarship is one of nine available under the 2020 CGGS scholarship program. Available for students entering Year 5 – 11, the program aims to recognise students who will make a strong and positive contribution to the life of the School. For a full list of scholarships and the evaluation criteria, visit the website. Applications close on Wednesday, 29 August.