By Darwin Bernardo
“THERE’S nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer,” is a quote I have repeated on numerous occasions.
Over the years I have found that encouraging and supporting young people to embed the characteristic of a role model from a young age promotes lifelong benefits – not only for the individual but also for the community as a whole.
Last month, I was humbled to have been invited to attend the launch of the Queens Young Leaders programme at Buckingham Palace by Their Royal Highnesses the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry. It aims to recognise the exceptional things young people are doing to benefit themselves and other people.
One of the highlights of the day was speaking to The Duke of Cambridge about my experience with Nutmeg community. It’s a youth empowerment organisation that works in the most deprived areas in the London borough of Barnet, where there are many social problems such as gun crime, drugs and high rates of unemployment.
We chatted about the opportunities and challenges young people have in the UK and what we, as leaders in our fields, could continue to do to support and inspire the 18-29 year old generation.
Today on International Youth Day, I will be championing young people and nominating someone for a Queens Young Leaders Award who deserves to be recognised for the lasting change they’re making in their community. I will be all over Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, making my followers know that there’s less than 60 days to go before nominations close and that #TheSearchIsOn.
For many years I have aimed to make young people more aware of the opportunities that are available to them. At times it was difficult as many felt volunteering or doing anything to support their communities was not their responsibility. Only by practicing what I was preaching did they decide to get involved as they could see how I was benefiting from helping my community. My communication and networking skills were getting better and meeting like-minded individuals inspired me to work harder and do more.
This is a great opportunity for all to get involved and use the power of social network to truly help promote this campaign and spread the message far and wide that this programme is looking for shinning examples of someone who’s making lasting change.
The Queens Young Leaders initiative will not only give young people from the UK the opportunity to be awarded for their commitment to tacking social issues, it will also shine light on the young people from across the Commonwealth who are also making a difference in their communities.
I believe this programme will allow Award winners to share best practice with each other and receive mentorship from individuals who are passionate about social action.