The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme is searching for inspirational young people across the Commonwealth who are making a difference in their communities.
Exceptional people aged 18-29 will receive awards for leading the way where they live, in honour of Her Majesty The Queen’s 60-year contribution to the Commonwealth. We’ll support them to do more life-changing work.
Grants will be made to organisations in selected Commonwealth countries that can show they are improving the lives of young people. The grants will help individuals gain new skills, employment and a voice in their communities.
Across the Commonwealth, there are remarkable young people overcoming great challenges in their lives to create a better future for themselves and for others. Here are some of their stories.
Sarita was 16 when her father died, leaving her to look after her mother and seven siblings in the Mumbai slums, where girls often leave education and marry young. Luckily, she discovered Magic Bus, a project which uses football to teach children living in the slums vital life-skills.
Now she is one of their mentors, giving important advice and has organised a rally highlighting the concern of child marriage, as well as finishing her own education. Many parents sent daughters to Magic Bus, and some married girls joined schools. She says, “Investing in young people like me will give my generation a step forward. Then those that come after us can take even more steps and make a bigger difference.”
Whilst some celebrate their 15th birthday with a party and cake, May spent hers in a psychiatric unit.
From just 8 years old, May had unhappy thoughts, grew suicidal and eventually she was diagnosed with depression.
With her mum’s support she returned to school and began recovery but she was shocked to find no online resources to help her help herself.
So May started her own website called ‘It’s Ok Campaign’, a space to ask questions, share information and challenge stigma around mental health. Today, it has over 20,000 visitors and is accessed worldwide by young people.
She says, “I feel like it’s my responsibility to make a safe place on the internet that tells other young people that they are not alone.”
SamueI grew up in the slums of Mathare in Nairobi. School was crowded and living without electricity at home, it was hard to study at night.
Aged 11, Samuel joined a youth sports association which uses football to help build young people’s personal and practical skills, as well as running a library to encourage education. It gave him a safe place to study.
Samuel’s hard work earned him a scholarship to pay for school fees, uniform and books, a relief for his struggling parents. After achieving a university place to study economics, he now helps other children in his community get an education through mentoring and volunteering in the library. He is an inspiration to the young people where he lives.
When Margeth was a young girl, she dreamt of being a lawyer. But that future was taken away when her father arranged her marriage to a much older man and she moved away.
Margeth’s husband beat her, keeping her locked in their house, even during pregnancy. She was terrified of him. She managed to escape and with her mother’s help found the Children’s Dignity Forum. The project helps girls resist forced marriage and early motherhood and instead complete education and get a job.
Today she is one of their peer educators and has helped over 500 girls to understand their rights. With the Forum’s support, she has even returned to school, making her dream of becoming a lawyer much more like a reality.
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