Big Brothers Big Sisters introduces young New Zealander

As far as public speakers go, they don’t come much more inspirational than Sam Johnson, organiser of the post-earthquake Student Volunteer Army.

Now you have the chance to hear from him, speaking in Rangiora next week.

Johnson is the guest speaker at the latest Big Brothers Big Sisters fundraising breakfast, which will be held at 7am next Wednesday (May 3) at the Rangiora Baptist Church, east Belt, in Rangiora.

The North Canterbury branch of BBBS is delighted to be hosting Johnson, who is a former New Zealander of the Year (2012), and has presented as a keynote speaker around the world.

His resume includes the likes of the 2012 World Volunteer Conference in London, a speech in Saudi Arabia as a guest of the Princess Al Alnoon Foundation for Youth Development, and in Japan at the Google Big Tent on Technology in Disasters.

And having been born in Ashburton, and grown up on a farm in Mayfield, he shares a close affinity with communities of the size and ilk of Waimakariri.

Johnson sprang to national prominence following the 2010 earthquake when he started up a social media campaign to rally students to help with the clean-up, assisting local residents with non-lifesaving tasks, in particularly cleaning up soil liquefaction residue on the streets and gardens of the city.

Johnson invited 200 friends but such was the effectiveness of the campaign, he wound up with over 2500 volunteers.

The Student Volunteer Army stemmed from this activity, springing to international prominence in 2011 when over 13,000 students rallied to the cause, again recruited via social media, to assist in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake.

Thus began a career that has seen Johnson inspire volunteering groups all over the world, including in Japan after the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami later in 2011, and in Nepal following its earthquake in 2015.

He has spoken in the likes of the House of Commons, has mingled with royalty, the Dalai Lama and political elites such as Hilary Clinton, and has even found time to successfully stand as a Community Board member for the Wigram-Riccarton Community Board.

Now he’s coming to Waimakariri to see you.

It will be a breakfast that is not to be missed!

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