TAKING a moment from his prepared keynote address at the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) gala dinner in Sydney last month, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd paid special attention to young Gympie teenager Bronte Baldwin.
To a room full of OLPC board members, executives from Telstra, Commonwealth Bank, News Limited and other corporate sponsors, Mr Rudd heaped praise on Bronte’s efforts in raising enough money for 43 computers.
Bronte, 17, had raised $13,000 for OLPC to purchase and distribute learning-driven laptops to children living in remote and rural Australia.
SIXTY Minutes reporter Jeff McMullen and Australian swimming star Ian Thorpe also joined in with their praise for Bronte Baldwin for her “awesome” fundraising efforts in providing 43 specialised laptops to children living in remote Australian communities.
“It was a little overwhelming,” Bronte told The Gympie Times.
“I guess they showed interest in me because most of the people at the dinner were older and I am a young girl still at school. Also, I was an individual raising money and not a big corporation.”
Bronte has found that her interest in politics has deepened since her conversation with the Prime Minister. She had always wanted to meet Gough Whitlam, however, because of his ill-health, he responded to her request with a letter which gave her the same advice he gave to a young Mr Rudd: go to university and learn a second language.
She told Mr Rudd this and he added that they had something else in common. As a school student at Nambour, Mr Rudd was sent to St Patrick’s in Gympie for two weeks every Christmas holiday to get a Catholic education.
Bronte is currently finishing Year 12 at St Patrick’s College and is thinking about a career in policitics. “Meeting Mr Rudd encouraged me so much, I think going into politics would be a fantastic job,” she said.
During his keynote address, Mr Rudd talked about what Bronte had been doing to help raise money for OLPC.
“Young Bronte Baldwin from Gympie has done more than the rest of us,” he told corporate sponsors.
OLPC foundation CEO Rangin Shrikhanta also made special mention of the support from Bronte in his speech.
In acknowledging the large corporate sponsors who contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars, he thanked Bronte for her assistance in providing the funds for 43 computers.
Bronte said she would continue to work towards raising awareness and funds for OLPC. She recently received another $500 from Gympie Lions South and remains committed to providing opportunities for those young indigenous children facing an uphill battle to achieve an education — a privilege she says she and her peers take for granted.
Bronte said these specialised computers provided the resources to educate young indigenous children aged 6 – 12 and connect them to the rest of the world.