Jamaican Jénine Shepherd cops prestigious Anthem Award
Jénine Shepherd

JÉNINE Shepherd, 24, has earned recognition as the Best Youth Leader of the Year in Education, Art & Culture in the second annual Anthem Awards for her work spearheading the multinational award-winning NGO Youths For Excellence Limited, that currently serves seven Caribbean countries and the USA.

Youths For Excellence joins other honourees like Lil Nas X, Planned Parenthood, Rihanna's Clara Lionel Foundation, Michelle Obama's When We All Vote, the Dalai Lama, March for Our Lives, Etsy, Oprah Winfrey Network, and other powerful game changers. This honour comes hot on the heels of her receiving the Diana Award in 2021 from Princess Diana's estate, which is the most prestigious award in the world that a young person can receive for social action and humanitarian work, as well as the Prime Minister's Youth Award for Excellence in the category of Nation Building in 2018.

The organisation maintained the prime minister's support by being able to host its inaugural back-to-school event there in 2019 and its founder being interviewed by OPM Now in 2021 after copping the Diana Award. In 2021, she was also listed among the Caribbean 30 Under-30 Changemakers. In 2022, she was recognised by the UK-based NGO Roy Anthony Reid Foundation for outstanding academic achievement and citizenship.

Shepherd has been able to balance running her NGO with her academics, as she recently graduated from Amherst College, the top liberal arts college in the USA with her bachelor's in neuroscience and economics after being awarded a full scholarship.

Anthem winners are selected by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. The awards was launched to amplify the voices that spark global change. The second annual competition received nearly 2,000 entries from 43 countries worldwide.

Youths For Excellence continually serves and provides opportunities for underprivileged children and their families in Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and the United States.

The organisation will be launching its Farm The Future Project this year in the pilot communities of Rose Town and Grants Pen, that will teach disenfranchised Jamaicans urban agricultural techniques, with a focus on aquaponics.

"I am humbled at this award and what it means for our work. The Anthem Awards has once again put us in the global spotlight. It is my hope that this attention will attract even more supporters for our work and provide us with the platform to advocate for the needs of the Caribbean," said Shepherd.

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