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Salem Takes the Stage as Attitude Winner

Salem Foxx (15) could have let Asperger’s Syndrome exclude him from social situations, but his passion and dedication to dance put him firmly centre stage last night.

The 15-year-old dancer won the Attitude Artistic Achievement Award at the 2015 Attitude Awards on December 3 – the UN sanctioned ‘International Day of People with Disability’.

The national awards celebrate the excellence and achievements of Kiwis living with a disability.  This year’s winners (see full list of winners) were announced at a black tie gala held at Auckland’s Viaduct Events Centre and hosted by television news presenter Simon Dallow.

The Awards have grown out of the Attitude TV series which screens on TV ONE on Sunday mornings at 8:30AM. The overall Attitude ACC Supreme Award was won by teenager Muskan Devta (16).

Chair of the Attitude Trust Dan Buckingham says the Awards are about celebrating outstanding achievements across what is a broad and diverse sector of society.

“Last night we celebrated winners across eight different categories, with awards for art, community and sporting achievements. It was such a difficult process to determine the winners as all of the 24 finalists were absolutely fantastic in their own right. It is a privilege to be able to tell all of their stories and celebrate their successes,” he says.

Salem has danced his way to a long list of achievements, whether in ballet, jazz, tap, lyrical or even acrobatic dance.

For the first time this year Salem performed en pointe – a ballet style usually reserved for girls. Salem proved he could handle the excruciating strength training and placed first in his debut en pointe competition.

Organisations around the world have started taking notice of Salem’s talent.  For one, Salem was awarded the International Naturally Autistic People’s Award for Performing Arts at the World Autism Festival 2015 in Vancouver on October 4.

Back in New Zealand, he’s performed as Daddy Warbucks in a production of Annie and has been busy in the studio choreographing over 20 dance solos, duos and group works.

He assists in teaching Grade One and Two ballet classes at the Hayley Johnson Academy of Dancing. He also manages a blog (balletboynz) that showcases his training and routines to other young dancers.

Other Attitude Award winners are Otis Horne (Courage in Sport), Nick Chisholm (Spirit of Attitude), Rachel Callander (Making a Difference), Michael Johnson (Sport Performer of the Year), CQ Hotels Wellington (ACC Employer Award) and Nicholas Brockelbank (Junior). Gary Williams was inducted into the Attitude Hall of Fame and Sean Prendeville won the Attitude People’s Choice Award.

Chief Executive of ACC Scott Pickering says ACC is proud to be principal sponsor of the awards for the eighth year.

“The Attitude Awards shine a light on New Zealand’s unsung heroes. At ACC we’re delighted to support the Awards and to acknowledge New Zealanders who live life to the fullest, achieve their goals and provide role models to our community.”

The Artistic Achievement Award is sponsored by the IHC Foundation. Other sponsors supporting the Awards include: Westpac, Drake Medox, Ministry of Health, Barfoot & Thompson, Air New Zealand, Lion Foundation, Invacare and the Wayne Francis Charitable Trust.

2015 Attitude Award Winners

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