Abrahim Simmonds named Queen’s Young Leader 2017

Saturday, December 03, 2016

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Twenty-two-year-old Abrahim Simmonds, co-founder of the Jamaican Youth Empowerment through Culture, Arts and Nationalism (JAYECAN), is among 60 young people from across the Commonwealth who have been selected to receive a prestigious Queen’s Young Leaders Award.

The awards recognise and celebrate exceptional young people aged 18 to 29 in the Commonwealth who are driving change within their communities and transforming people’s lives. Now in its third and penultimate year, the 60 young people announced on Wednesday become part of the growing network of influential young change-makers who are coming together and being supported to become an even greater force for good. They will receive their award from Her Majesty The Queen at a ceremony in London next year.

This year, award winners are leading projects tackling global issues, including education, climate change, gender equality, mental health, and disability equality.

Simmonds has been chosen in recognition of his work using the arts to help develop the skills of young people. His group JAYECAN helps young people to identify a skill or talent that they can use to help the community and create programmes which use the arts to drive positive change. These include ArtReach, where volunteers visit children’s homes and rehabilitation centres to provide music, art and drama sessions; and Herstory, which encourages young women from disadvantaged communities to use the spoken word and writing to help them to explore their past.

"I am excited to receive the Queen’s Young Leaders Award and look forward to gaining new skills in areas of leadership, research and planning," Simmonds said.

The Queen’s Young Leaders Awards programme was established in 2014 by The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust in partnership with Comic Relief, The Royal Commonwealth Society, and the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Continuing Education, in recognition of The Queen’s lifetime of service to the Commonwealth. Each year for four years, 60 young leaders receive bespoke training, mentoring and networking opportunities, and take part in a week-long residential programme in London to empower them to build on the work they are leading in their communities which is changing the lives of others for the better.

"We are delighted that these incredible young people have been selected as Queen’s Young Leaders, and wish our warmest congratulations to each and every one of them. The Queen’s Young Leaders Award is designed to inspire and nurture the talent of exceptional young people from all over the Commonwealth so that they can create and lead others towards securing positive change in communities. The work being undertaken by the latest cohort of Queen’s Young Leaders is addressing some of the most crucial issues facing the Commonwealth today. We cannot wait to see how their impressive endeavours grow and develop over the course of the year to come and beyond," said Dr Astrid Bonfield, CBE, chief executive of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust.

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