60 young people from across the Commonwealth will be receiving the Queen’s Young Leaders Award. A Belizean youth has been named among this year’s winners, and she hails from Belmopan. She is 27 year old Deidra Smith. The Award will be presented in London by Her Majesty The Queen in 2016 as a part of The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme, which celebrates the achievements of young people who are transforming the lives of others and making a lasting difference in their communities. Four years ago, Deidra Smith launched her High School Scholarship program right here on PlusTV. The programme provides financial help for needy students and Deidra also serves as a board member at the school where the first student received his scholarship.
Deidra Smith, Winner-The Queen’s Young Leaders Award: It’s actually exciting to be here on Plus TV to do it because this is the only station that promoted my scholarship and it was 4 years ago I decided to do a scholarship for students mainly who needed financial help but I also wanted to make sure they were going to continue and so it had a lot of academic excellence tied to it. We put some applications out, we promoted it on this station right here and we got many applications, it’s in the Cayo area and so most people applied to Cayo Christian Academy and so 2 of the students got the scholarship. The reason why I wanted to do a scholarship is because growing up it was hard for my mom to pay for my education and I had a friend in school, she was very good. We were always competing for 1st 2nd 3rd and she couldn’t continue to high school like I did because her parents couldn’t support her. And so I always thought back on that and the struggle that I know some parents face and I value education a lot because I see what it’s done for me and I wanted to give children that opportunity.
The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme was established in 2014 by The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust in partnership with Comic Relief and the Royal Commonwealth Society. Over the next three years, the Programme will support thousands of young people to achieve their goals. For Deidra, the process of applying for the Award began in September and only a week or so ago she was notified that her application was successful.
Deidra Smith, Winner-The Queen’s Young Leaders Award: I heard about two weeks ago but we were told to keep it Top Secret until they were ready to launch it and so we each got a call I think and they said they were down to 3. And so just in hopes of receiving the award it was very exciting receiving a call from London and it was very exciting and encouraging for me to continue the work that I’m doing.
As part of the Award, winners will receive mentoring and online learning provided by the University of Cambridge. Deidra says she is looking forward to the opportunities that the award will give her to improve what she is doing.
Deidra Smith, Winner-The Queen’s Young Leaders Award: Big thank you to the Queen’s Young Leaders Award Program for offering such an opportunity for young people across the Common Wealth. They said over 2000 people applied and 60 will travel to London next year and the exciting part for me is actually the training that you get. It’s connected with the University of Cambridge and so they will tailor a training program for the things you’re evolved in to help in the success of the program and so I’m really looking forward to that because I know it will add to what I’m doing here in Belize.
Award winners will attend a week-long residential programme in the UK in June 2016, when they will receive their Award at Buckingham Palace from Her Majesty The Queen