When it comes to the word 'inspiring', look no further than 25-year-old Gemma Campion.
The Wellington-born mental health clinician was diagnosed with scoliosis as a teenager, and has dedicated herself to supporting others going through the same diagnosis. It's earned her a position as a finalist in the 2021 Rotary Inspirational Women's Awards.
Gemma moved back to her home region after graduating through the University of Western Sydney in November. It was in Sydney where she found her calling in life.
"I was working full time in childcare, and on the side I was running a support group for girls with scoliosis, and I realised that I really enjoyed that," she said. "I wanted to know, 'how do I make this into a career?' Someone suggested that I start studying social work, so I quit my job and started to study full time."
That support group is called 'Curvy Girls'. It's an organisation to help young girls navigate the world with a Scoliosis diagnosis. It began in the US and now has a heavily supported group in Sydney, thanks to Gemma.
It was by chance that she was diagnosed at 16, after a visit to the GP in Wellington for a common cold.
"My spine ended up to be 64 degrees curved. The doctor referred me to Sydney and I had to have surgery. I didn't know anyone with scoliosis, I didn't know what it was before I was diagnosed with it, it was really quite scary to be alone in that."
Gemma contacted the Curvy Girls organiser in New York, and the Australian group was essentially born.
The organisation sent Gemma to New York for its annual conference in 2016, and the next time she went - in 2018 - she brought seven Australian group members with her. It took two years to organise, including raising the funds for the trip.
She feels her greatest achievement is the success of the support group, and the joy it's brought to members.
"I didn't ever start Curvy Girls to get an award, that wasn't the purpose. But Curvy Girls has made such an impact on my life, it's really nice to know that I've had that impact on other peoples' lives as well."
Anyone interested in being involved in Curvy Girls can contact email@example.com.
The Rotary Inspirational Women's Awards finalists will be announced in September.
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