Naija Heroes: Three Young Nigerians Get Queen Elizabeth Awards


Wow! Hearty congratulations to three amazing Nigerians as Queen Elizabeth on Tuesday night presented Hauwa Ojeifo, Isaac Ezirim and Kennedy Ekezie-Joseph with a Queen’s Young Leaders Award at a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace, London.
The awards were in honour of the work they are doing to transform lives in their communities. The Queen was joined at the Award ceremony by the Duke and Duchess of Sussex in recognising their success.
The Queen’s Young Leaders Awards programme, now in its fourth and final year, celebrates the achievements of some of the most exciting young change-makers from across the Commonwealth. This year’s cohorts from 38 Commonwealth countries are finding solutions to global issues such as climate change, food scarcity, gender-based violence, mental health, and access to education.
Guests including David Beckham OBE, Sir Lenny Henry CBE, Nicola Adams OBE, Neelam Gill, Caspar Lee, Tina Daheley, Ore Oduba and Chairman of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, Sir John Major, joined Award winners at Buckingham Palace to congratulate them on their remarkable achievements.
The Duke of Sussex, who was recently named a Commonwealth Youth Ambassador said: “In this rapidly changing world, it is heartening to meet so many inspiring young people gathered here today, who have already stepped up as leaders and improved the lives of so many people across the Commonwealth. You are the hope and optimism the world needs and we will all do whatever we can to support you in it.”
David Beckham OBE said: “I’m so proud to be here with the Queen’s Young Leaders. It’s really inspiring to meet these hardworking young people, who continue to dedicate their time and energy to helping other people live a better life”.
Isaac Ezirim, 28, received his Award for the work he is doing to teach coding to teenagers in low-income areas, founding ‘Teens Can Code’ which is currently training 200 teenagers how to build web and mobile applications using the same tools that are used by professionals in the tech industry.
Hauwa Ojeifo, 26, received her award for the work she is doing to tackle the stigma around mental health, running a women’s support group called ‘She Writes Women’, which focuses on mental health support and outreach among some of the most vulnerable people in the community.
Kennedy Ekezie-Joseph, 20, received his Award for the work he is doing to promote women’s rights in Nigeria, founding the Calabar Youth Council for Women’s Rights (CYCWR), which supports the rights of women in the areas of female genital mutilation (FGM), domestic abuse, forced child marriage and access to education for girls.
Sir John Major, Chairman of The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust said: “I extend my warmest congratulations to all the 2018 Queen’s Young Leaders. Together with our Award Winners from the last three years, they complete a unique, 240-strong cohort of Young Leaders from all across the Commonwealth. This is such an invaluable resource for the Commonwealth that The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust will be launching a legacy fund, to ensure that our support and encouragement to our Young Leaders will continue beyond the lifetime of the Trust.
The now complete Queen’s Young Leaders network forms a unique, dedicated and powerful group of young people from 53 Commonwealth countries who will connect, collaborate and change lives together for years to come. To further support them in their future endeavours, a £200,000 Legacy Fund has been created. It will be open to all 240 Queen’s Young Leaders and 282 highly commended runners-up to apply for grants that will help elevate their work and enable them to work together to tackle some of the most pressing issues facing the Commonwealth.

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