Andrew Scott doesn’t let severe haemophilia define him – but says he can’t ignore it either.
The Elim Christian College student, winner of the Youth with Disability Award hosted by New Zealand Youth Awards, has just returned from Wellington after receiving a trophy and certificate of congratulations from Youth Minister Nikki Kaye.
The award recognises outstanding contribution towards supporting young people in the community.
The 16-year-old who has been associated with haemophilia since birth has worked alongside children, peers and parents with bleeding disorders, taking a leadership role in sharing his story at camps hosted by the Haemophilia Foundation of New Zealand (HFNZ).
“I care a lot about seeing the younger generation deal better with bleeding disorders,” he says .
Andrew is an active member of the local youth board and youth group that works to educate, raise awareness and advocate for those with chronic illnesses and disabilities.
“I have spent a lot of time in hospitals being sick and that has increased my appreciation for life. Some of my friends with the same ailment have passed away,” he says.
“Haemophilia is central to whom I am and it has affected me very positively.”
Taking daily intravenous treatment as he injects his arm with an infusion of replacement factor to prevent bleeding, Andrew says that at times there is internal bleeding just out of doing simple things like walking or waking up in the morning.
“There are a lot of side complications that I don’t want to go into but it would suffice to say that it targets certain joints and muscles, and mine is knees.
“I have got osteoarthritis caused by frequent bleeding in the joints.”
On particularly bad days when there is a lot of pain he uses crutches and goes to school on a wheelchair.
“Sometimes I may spiral down but I always step out of it,” says the Year 12 student.
“My disability has helped me gain perspective and live one day at a time. It has never stopped me from participating in different activities
“I always tell other children suffering from the same disease that don’t ever say you can’t do it because there will always be a way around it,” says Andrew who also works part time at a tech company.
Leading by example, Andrew has not let his disability stop him from going on a school trip to Taiwan in December last year. This year in October he plans to travel on another school trip to Israel.
Andrew attributes his positivity to his faith.
“I don’t know how I would cope without my faith. It is prayer that has helped me a lot.
“Also reading the glowing reference letters that people wrote to nominate me for this award, made me realise that I have been making a difference in their lives.”