{gspeech}The Leona Gitmans Te Aranga Self Advocacy Award is an award that People First gives out every year and goes to someone who has:

  • been a leader in self-advocacy
  • and has spoken up strongly for the rights of people with learning disability in New Zealand.

People First’s National Committee decides each year who will get this award. In 2013 the award was given to Josie Khoury at the 10 year celebrations at Parliament. Josie is a founding member of People First and has been involved in a long list of self advocacy over many years.


Here are a few of the great things Josie has done:

  • Josie is a member of the Whanganui local group which was the first group to set up in New Zealand. Josie has had many roles in the group over the years. Most recently she has been the President but she has just stepped down due to health reasons.
  • Josie was on the People First Independence Steering Committee that was set up to move People First from within IHC to independence.
  • Josie was a leader in the People First march and petition to get the Government to close Kimberley, the last large institution in New Zealand. She went on to be on the Government working group to close Kimberley and stayed on the group throughout the many years that it took.
  • Josie was Involved in ‘To Have An Ordinary Life’ Photo Board show, telling her story to help others.  Her story then went into the book and DVD ‘Seeking Community’.
  • Josie is well known in her community – doing a paper run for many years and has been involved in Gateway Club and Special Olympics.


Here is what Josie had to say after getting the award: 

“I was dumbstruck and didn’t know I was getting it. I felt like 30 years had come to a standstill and people had noticed and recognised the 30 years I have worked hard at self advocacy. I felt proud for me and was good to show other people with learning disability they can do it too.”


Josie, you are truly a leader in self advocacy and we are happy we are able to acknowledge all the great work you have done.

Congratulations and well done! {/gspeech}