At just 9 years old Te Awamutu man Luke East was put on methotrexate chemotherapy to help tackle a health condition.
Despite enduring this treatment for almost a decade Luke became heavily involved in a number of community organisations - being awarded an Excellence Award for Community Service at the Waipa Youth Awards in 2017.
Since finishing the treatment he has continued to be involved in community organisations, raised thousands of dollars for various charitable causes and worked for some prominent politicians.
In 2018, Luke started a petition to change the policy of the Ministry of Social Development towards disabled beneficiaries and those with degenerative health conditions, like himself.
His petition urged Parliament to amend its policy so beneficiaries with life-long degenerative medical conditions do not need to provide a medical certificate every three months to retain their welfare payments.
He knew the strain this policy has on some of New Zealand's most vulnerable people and told the House that making them reapply for their money on a regular basis "causes them undue stress and makes no sense, especially when their condition will only ever worsen".
Luke was asked to provide the Social Services and Community Select Committee with a written submission in support of his petition.
In this he told MPs that New Zealand is "one of the most progressive nations on Earth, in one of the most enlightened times in human history, [therefore] it is shameful that so many of our disabled people are not receiving the support they need".
He was later invited to Parliament to present to the Select Committee.
In September 2019 he told MPs how amending the ministry's policy would go some way to improving the system for New Zealand's most vulnerable and detailed examples of how the current policy is ill-serving disabled Kiwis.
Luke tells the Te Awamutu Courier that the news that the Government was going to modify the policy as a result of his petition came completely out of the blue.
New chairwoman of the Social Services and Community Select Committee, Angie Warren-Clark, told him the reforms based on his petition had been announced as part of Budget 2021.
Almost one-quarter of Kiwis have some form of disability and the Ministry of Social Development processes about 20,000 medical certificates each month, but as a result of the changes announced after Luke's petition all that will change when the new policy comes into force on January 31 next year.
Luke says he is "delighted".
"These long overdue changes will benefit so many Kiwis each year and will help reduce the stress and strain on New Zealand's most vulnerable."
He also reports feeling deeply grateful for the support of, among others, former MP Maggie Barry, deputy leader of New Zealand First, Fletcher Tabuteau, and National's Social Development spokeswoman Louise Upston, as well as that of his family and friends, who have been with him throughout his campaign to get the ministry to change its policy.