A set of remarkable young people have been recognised with the Rotary Young Citizen Awards which mark their 15th Anniversary this year.
BBC TV Presenter Ellie Crisell, who presented the first Awards in 2007 and many since then, has also presented this year’s Awards Ceremony that took place at Volunteer Expo Live at the NEC in Birmingham on 7th May 2022.
The Rotary Young Citizen Awards were started to celebrate the amazing achievements of inspirational young people across Great Britain and Ireland, many of whom have assumed important responsibilities at a very young age. Nominations are put forward by Rotary clubs.
To mark the anniversary, there are two new awards: the first ever Young Environmentalist Award, reflecting Rotary’s new area of focus on the environment, and the Child of Courage Award which honours two youngsters who are helping make a difference to others despite having to face extreme health problems and difficulties themselves.
Meet this year’s remarkable winners:
Megan Rodd, nominated by Horbury and Ossett Phoenix Rotary, West Yorkshire
15-year-old Megan has been helping her local community since the age of 5 both by fundraising and random acts of kindness. At 6, Megan climbed Ben Nevis and has since climbed Snowdon, completed marathons, bike rides and more.
She started fundraising after seeing charity collectors at a Leeds Rhinos rugby match. Her fundraising balance is now over £35,000.
During lockdown, Megan didn’t let COVID-19 stop her fundraising efforts; she started a Facebook page called Megan’s Kindness Mission and organised food parcels for people in need.
Dr Mya-Rose Craig, nominated by Bristol Breakfast Rotary
Mya-Rose is a 20-year-old British-Bangladeshi birder and environmentalist, committed to stopping biodiversity loss and saving our planet through halting climate change.
She started campaigning when she was 8 after meeting indigenous peoples in the Amazon. At 11, she started her Birdgirl blog to share her passion for birds and wildlife which now has 5.5 million views. Aged 13, she set up her charity Black2Nature aimed at getting “Visible Minority Ethnic communities out into nature.” She became the youngest British person to be awarded an honorary Doctorate of Science aged 17 from Bristol University for fighting for equal access to nature and ethnic diversity in the environmental sector.
Mya-Rose has written two books.
Amol Neupane, nominated by Bexley Rotary
11-year-old Amol’s charitable fundraising activities started when he was 6. During the lockdown, he cycled 400km over a three-week period, raising over £3,300 for the Oxford University Coronavirus Vaccine Research Project because he wanted to help in the fight against COVID-19.
Amol has undertaken a fundraising challenge for school children in rural Nepal. He also has a keen interest in saving the environment.
Avye Couloute, nominated by Putney Rotary
14-years-old Avye is passionate about girls getting involved in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) which lead her setting up Girls Into Coding (www.girlsintocoding.com) with her mum and running workshops in coding and robotics for under privileged and underserved girls.
Avye started coding aged 7.
Spark UK, nominated by Ilfracombe Rotary
Spark UK is a mental health organisation set up by four teenagers, aged between 14 and 16, for young people. Their aim is to “spark the conversation around mental health”, alleviate the stigma through their website and develop resources for schools and the community. They have received support from sports stars and celebrities such as Jonny Wilkinson, Stephen Fry and Emma Thompson who recorded messages for an All-Star Digital Calendar (an online version of an advent calendar) where they talked about their own mental health.
CATCH Leeds, nominated by Roundhay Rotary
CATCH (Community Action To Create Hope) is a volunteer youth-led charity. The young volunteers aged between 11 and 24, many of whom had been in trouble themselves, have turned their lives around and transformed a previous crime hotspot into a vibrant community hub.
They have helped reduce crime and anti-social behaviour in the local area by leading youth programmes and fostering relations between different communities promoting community cohesion. www.catchleeds.co.uk
New Rotary Young Citizen Environmentalist Award Winner 2022
Amy and Ella Meek were nominated by Carlton Rotary (Greater Nottingham)
Teenage sisters Amy, aged 18, and Ella, aged 16, are campaigning for positive change to reduce single-use plastic. They set up their own charity Kids Against Plastic, aged 12 and 10, aimed at helping young people (and not so young people) to learn about environmental issues such as plastic pollution and the climate crisis.
They now have more than 320 “Plastic Clever Schools” signed up.
Rotary Young Citizen Sporting Hero Award Winner 2022
Khovan Hussein was nominated by Newton-le-Willows Rotary
17-year-old Khovan from Warrington has overcome having a heart condition, autism and Tourette’s to put others first. This included fundraising for teenagers with cancer and helping fellow students with medical and mental health issues who required his sensitive understanding to step up to sport to engage them in the wider community. He has helped his peers and teachers to maintain their fitness, despite the impact of COVID-19. He has completed two college work placements as an MMA coach and gym instructor/personal trainer respectively.
Rotary Young Citizen Peacemaker Award Winner 2022
Fay Pretty, nominated by Bournemouth East Cliff Rotary
Fay, who’s 22, has been passionate about peace since secondary school. From the age of 16, she was involved in projects locally and in Ecuador, Uganda and India helping build peace, understanding and community cohesion.
Fay was a founder member of PeaceJam UK’s Youth Leadership Team and now leads this team and is building its membership and capacity.
New Rotary Young Citizen Child of Courage Award 2022
Areeb Khan, Redbridge Rotary (London)
Areeb has revealed her remarkable battle with COVID-19 in a bid to encourage others, particularly young people, to get vaccinated. She had no underlying health conditions before contracting COVID-19, aged 16, in July 2021. Her oxygen levels fell to below half and she was transferred to the Royal Papworth Hospital in Cambridge for a treatment called Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation (ECMO) – described as a “last hope” for COVID-19 patients. She has had to re-learn skills such as walking.
Esha Nadeswaran, Redbridge Rotary
5-year-old Esha’s battle with acute myeloid leukaemia has inspired around 20,000 people to join the bone marrow donor list, including many from ethnic minorities unrepresented on the register.
Esha’s personality and her story touched so many and testing centres were set up in an effort to find her a donor. Between 60 and 70 per cent of the new registrations were from ethnic minority backgrounds.
After a donor was found outside the UK, an urgent stem cell transplant combined with a new treatment has been carried out but she still faces an uncertain outcome.