HUNTER student Lucia Minto has received national recognition for a project about her beloved Aunty Mary, which encourages people not to judge others based on their appearance.
Lucia, 12, is a year six student at St Joseph's Primary School in Merewether, which asked students to complete a written, photographic or digital project about someone who inspired them.
Lucia created a video titled The Cover Is Not The Book about her Aunty Mary, who is her grandmother's younger sister and who has Down Syndrome.
"When I was younger Aunty Mary always came to school with my Nanna and I sometimes then felt a bit embarrassed about her looking different, but now as I've got older I realise that there's nothing wrong with her, because she's not different at all, she's just unique and everybody is unique in a different way," Lucia said.
"She is very caring and loving... and watches lots of TV soaps!"
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Lucia said she never expected to win the junior section of the Australian Catholic magazine Young Voices award, but hoped it would help her video find a wider audience.
"I wanted people to get that you can judge people by what they look like and how they dress and what colour skin they have, but that's just judging people, whereas you [shouldn't] judge by the cover, you need to really take time to ask are they okay, if they're sitting on the street do they need some help, do they have any family," she said.
"Everybody has got a story, but if you don't bother asking you'll never know."
Lucia's mother Bernadette O'Connor said the pair talked often about issues including social justice and discrimination.
"Since she did that sweet little video her message is more pertinent than ever, we're seeing more division in our society, sadly, than ever before based on judgments of others and that's not the world that we want to raise our children in and it's not the world these kids want to live in," she said.
"That concept of not judging a book by its cover, that concept of acceptance and non-judgement is such a powerful message for today and for a child to be a conveyor of that message - it's the future voices that are saying 'This is the world we want to live in, not one where there is division happening on such a broad scale'... it's about connecting from a place of heart with other people in the world."
Lucia's teacher Jeremy Watt said her video was "very special" and he was proud of her.
"I was super impressed, she's very sensitive and wise beyond her years, so I wasn't surprised.
"The idea was for them to share the story of somebody else who inspires them... now she's inspiring others to stop and think about how they see others."
St Joseph's also had two students receive honourable mentions, Maddie Lusby and Xavier Mulley. Many were also highly commended, Lucy Webber, Bonnie Petersen, Abbie Hartnett, Gizelle Griffiths, Josephine Ryba, Meera Sinha, Patrick Aguado, Aidan Soldado, Abi Taber, Isabelle Emmett, Isaac, Chase Firman, Ella, Lillian Scanlon, Eva Cootes, Eden Buxton, Ivy Jones and Ivy Stevens.
St James' Primary School Kotara South students Molly and Oliver Dempsey were also highly commended, as was St Therese's Primary New Lambton student Lilly Robinson.
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