When Mudyala Aboriginal Corporation founder and CEO, Aneika Kapeen was announced as 2024 Clarence Valley Citizen of the Year, a loud cheer erupted from the crowd in acknowledgment of more than a decade of dedication to the community.
An extremely humble Ms Kapeen told the CV Independent she was still processing her win against such a worthy group of 12 other nominees.
“I’m a bit shocked,” she said.
“From my eyes I only do what my dad and nan done.
“So, it feels weird being recognised for doing what I was taught.
“It’s never just me, its always a team effort, we have got a great bunch of people.”
Ms Kapeen acknowledged the assistance of her fellow nominees, Jacaranda Festival director Mark Blackadder and Alan Woods, who is the driving force behind the Townsend Men’s Shed for their continued efforts.
Ms Kapeen was joined by Allan Woods, Claire Aman, Justin James, Kaitlyn-Maree Robinson, Mark Blackadder, Philip Hirst, Rex Green, Sally Anne Rogers, Sue Boyle, Tom Lavery, Vicki Marsh, and Zak Masters as well-deserved nominees in the 2024 Clarence Valley Citizen of the Year award.
Her in assistance to, plus her impact and influence on the community, was reflected by her more than 30 nominations, including Barbara Winters, Danielle Fisher, and Michael Kennedy.
What made the acknowledgement extra special for Ms Kapeen, was following in the footsteps of her well-respected father, Trevor Kapeen, who received the same award at the 2003 Iluka Australia Day ceremony 21 years ago.
The 31-year-old is an inspirational role model, embodying a spectrum of contributions, encompassing educational empowerment, cultural preservation, and artistic expression.
Through her passion and direction, the Mudyala Aboriginal Corporation operates programs to assist youths aged up to 25, to uplift and build cultural pride through sharing stories, art, and dance.
A focus of their programs and activities is using culture as an avenue to engage at-risk youth, to develop pride in their work.
Over the past decade, the Mudyala Aboriginal Corporation under Ms Kapeen’s leadership has secured several government grants to help facilitate programs including Lower Clarence Play N Yarn, the Community Preschool Engagement Program, the Aboriginal Children and Youth Program, and the Rising Warrior Youth Football Program.
Since it was established in 2019, the Community Preschool Engagement Program has delivered more than 1 million hours of learning and play time for children through local kindergarten, preschool and school partnerships with the Mudyala Aboriginal Corporation.
Over the summer school holidays, programs run by the Mudyala Aboriginal Corporation have devoted hundreds of hours to educating and inspiring youth around the Clarence Valley.
The Mudyala Aboriginal Corporation is a not-for-profit organisation transforming lives by supporting young people and their families to connect and engage with education in a comfortable and culturally appropriate manner.
To donate visit www.mudyala.org.au.
This article appeared in the Clarence Valley Independent, 31 January 2024.