Casual Day ambassador Nicole Laxton has dedicated the month of August, which is Women’s Month, to visiting children with disabilities at the Sunshine Early Learning Centre in Elsburg, Germiston. She says: “The reason for the celebrating the act of female solidarity in 1956, when women marched on the Union Buildings in protest against the pass laws, is now much wider. The day is devoted to the recognition of the accomplishment of all women. I would like to commend the mothers of the wonderful children that I have met at the centre, for their spirit and courage,” says Nicole.
The 19-year-old’s empathy for persons with disabilities is partly as a result of being diagnosed with Absence Epilepsy when she was 9 years old, but she has never allowed her condition to stand in the way of achieving her dreams and goals. “I speak from my own experience, but I am eager to get involved with creating awareness around other conditions,” says Nicole.
Her commitment to community service projects is evident in her appointment as Youth Ambassador for Epilepsy SA when she was only 16 years of age and more recently Ambassador for Casual Day. Not only has Nicole been chosen as a finalist for the Miss Earth SA 2013 competition, but she was recently awarded a Presidential Scholarship to study Fine Arts at Pratt University in New York. It consistently ranks amongst the Top 10 Art Schools in the world.
It is her strong affinity for people and her deep connection to the environment that inspires her to create artworks that have deep meaning and that resonate a strong message to everyone that experiences them. She has a deep concern for the “incredible human suffering of people living on the African continent as well as the destruction of the environment and our animals”.
Her research into these problems has shown her that a lot of it is synonymous with poverty. As a young South African she feels compelled to try and make a difference. She says she is constantly reminded by something that Desmond Tutu once said: “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
She says her contributions to society are more important than her limitations. As an ambassador for Epilepsy SA her mandate is to educate young people about epilepsy and assist with fundraising. As a Casual Day ambassador she visits organisations that provide services to children with disabilities and creating awareness on her social networks around Casual Day.
Casual Day project leader Celeste Vinassa says, “Even at this young age, she is a role model. Nicole is a very mature and intelligent young woman. She has a deep understanding of what it is like to be bullied at school because she has a condition called Absence Epilepsy. A typical absence seizure consists of a sudden loss of awareness. The child will suddenly stop their activities and stare blankly into space.
“She was the butt of many a joke at school and teachers thought she was daydreaming,” explains Vinassa. “Despite these experiences, she is highly accomplished, poised and has achieved a lot for such a young person. It has endowed her with a lot of compassion for those around her. We are honoured to have her as a Casual Day ambassador.”
In 2012 Nicole was runner up in the prestigious Face of Fashion competition. She was selected to participate in a Model Worldwide search in London during April 2013 where she won the Beauty category. In 2011 she was a Top 12 finalist for Miss SA Teen. She is also a finalist for Miss Earth SA 2013. Nicole is a part-time model and holds modelling contracts with Star Models in Johannesburg and TopModel in the UK. She recently completed a certification course in photography and is preparing for her Dramatic Performers Diploma where she will be examined by the Trinity College of London in September 2013. She will continue with her drama studies on a part-time basis as she intends to qualify with a teacher’s diploma in this discipline.
She feels her achievements are defined by what she can contribute and the difference that she can make. She is very active in her own community and is currently organising a fundraiser for Casual Day at the S.W.E.A.T 1000 franchise in Bedfordview on Friday 6 September. “We want to turn this into a really fun event, so come to S.W.E.A.T to get your stickers, go big and make a big impact on the world,” she urges.
“I am honoured to be a Casual Day ambassador – this gives me the opportunity to learn more about the sector and to be of assistance to Casual Day,” said Nicole when she recently visited the Casual Day head-office and warehouse in Edenvale.
Nicole says, “Go big, wear your sticker and let’s make this Casual Day the biggest one ever.”
Remember, remember, Friday 6 September is Casual Day
To participate in Casual Day and Go Big, visit www.casualday.co.za
Leading retail group Edcon, is Casual Day’s principal financial sponsor. Stickers are available at all Edcon stores, which include the following brands: Edgars, Jet, JetMart, Boardmans, CNA, Red Square and LEGIT. Stickers will also be available at Absa, Game and DionWired stores, Checkers, Checkers Hyper or any of the participating beneficiary organisations (for full list see www.casualday.co.za).
The gala evening for the Miss Earth SA 2013 competition will take place on the 17th August 2013 at the Tsogo Sun Montecasino Ballroom.
Casual Day is a project owned by the National Council of Persons with Physical Disabilities and has been run in partnership with its national beneficiaries, SA National Council for the Blind, Disabled People South (DPSA), SA Federation for Mental Health, Deaf Federation of SA (DeafSA) and Epilepsy SA, for the past 18 years. Eight new organisations have joined its beneficiary family: Autism South Africa (ASA), Down Syndrome South Africa, the National Association for Persons with Cerebral Palsy (NAPCP), the South African National Deaf Association (SANDA), the National Institute for the Deaf (NID), QuadPara Association of South Africa (QASA), Alzheimer’s South Africa and the South African Disability Alliance (SADA).