LGBT+ athletes Michael Gunning and Lauren Rowles honour Just Like Us ambassador who has inspired more than 20,000 school pupils with talks
LGBT+ athletes Michael Gunning and Lauren Rowles presented the Ambassador of the Year award at the Just Like Us Awards 2023 last night, honouring a volunteer who has reached more than 20,000 young people.
The Just Like Us Awards on 13 July featured a line-up of well-known and beloved awards presenters, including members of the Heartstopper cast and West End star Layton Williams, in a celebration of the strides made by young people, school staff and mentors for LGBT+ inclusion.
Alexa Rusakoff (she/they), from Brighton, was named Ambassador of the Year, having volunteered with Just Like Us to give talks about LGBT+ inclusion since 2020.
Rusakoff has shown tireless commitment to ensuring that school pupils have access to the positive LGBT+ representation they need, and are empowered to take a stand for LGBT+ equality.
She has delivered an incredible 86 school talks, as part of Just Like Us’ Ambassador Programme, reaching 21,000 young people, and has also featured in Just Like Us school resources about being an LGBT+ person of faith. Rusakoff has spoken on panels, taken part in media opportunities, and consistently offered support to other volunteers.
Presenting the Ambassador of the Year award alongside Michael Gunning, Lauren Rowles said: “As LGBT+ athletes, we know how important it is that you can be yourself and also feel represented. This award goes to someone who has shown outstanding commitment to helping LGBT+ young people feel seen and represented by volunteering to give school talks.”
Alexa Rusakoff said: “It’s absolutely amazing to win Ambassador of the Year. The giving aspect of volunteering as an ambassador, from going into schools, to helping to create resources for young people has been incredibly rewarding. But for me, it has been meeting the other ambassadors that has really changed my life. We all share so many experiences, and there are so many other people to learn from, to gather around you and become your best friends.”
Laura Mackay, Chief Executive of Just Like Us, the LGBT+ young people’s charity, said: “Alexa’s commitment to volunteering with Just Like Us has been astonishing. They have put an incredible amount of time and effort into ensuring that LGBT+ school pupils receive the inclusive education and positive representation that they wish they could have had at school, and every member of the Just Like Us team is incredibly grateful.
“As Alexa comes to the end of her time as an ambassador, I hope this award shows just how valued she has been. The changes that she has made will not only stay with the thousands of young people she spoke to, but also with everyone who worked alongside her.”
The Just Like Us Awards 2023 were sponsored by JP Morgan Chase & Co, and Gay Times was the official media partner.