Deidra Smith receives Queens Award

vlcsnap-2016-06-29-15h08m17s26360 young people from across the Commonwealth received the Queen’s Young Leaders Award including Belizean, 28 year old Deidra Smith.  The recipients were awarded in London at Buckingham Palace this past week by Her Majesty the Queen in acknowledging the achievements of those young persons 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 for which she has now been awarded. That program, launched right here on PlusTV, provides financial help for needy students. Deidra is back from London and stopped by PlusTV to tell us more about her experience.

 

Deidra Smith, Queens Young Leaders Award Recipient

“It was very exciting meeting the Queen. We’ve been preparing for it for a long time and that actual moment when it happens it vlcsnap-2016-06-29-15h06m46s997actually flies by. Just that moment that you have with her you can tell how humble she is and when I approached her the first thing she asked me is what do you do in Belize with youth. It was really nice that she was genuinely interested. It’s not just shaking her hand and leaving you also get to talk to her. Just going around London and talking to different people you meet along the way they are in awe that you get the opportunity to mean the Queen. They say wow we live here and we don’t get to meet her. It is good feeling to be one of the five Belizeans that get to meet the Queen because this program has been going on for only five years now. I am very blessed.”

Deidra also told us what the award means for the work that she does and how it will impact that work.

 

Deidra Smith, Queens Young Leaders Award Recipient

“I think the main thing that this experience will do for me is to encourage me to continue doing what I’m doing. We are not doing this vlcsnap-2016-06-29-15h04m47s301work for recognition it’s because we have hearts for different projects. I am working with youth and I love them. Everywhere I go I’m with them but I think it really encourages me to do more and to make it better and also to get more people involved. My pastor told me before I left that pay day doesn’t come every day but this is payday for you. Just keeping a genuine heart for people and getting recognition for it is pretty encouraging.”

Deidra was actually in London for a historical event, the Brexit vote, where the UK decided via referendum to leave the European Union. It is a controversial move and voters in London, where Deidra was, voted largely to remain in the UK but were outnumbered in the overall vote. Deidra told us that many she spoke to were sad about the decision but it was not a topic brought up in the Young Leaders Award program.

 

Deidra Smith, Queens Young Leaders Award Recipient

“For us, they avoided the issue. They didn’t want it to come up in the program and even though we interacted with the media they asked the media to not bring up that topic for us. What is interesting though is that all we are all young people and they did show on the news that majority of the younger population voted to remain in. So I thought that was very interesting.”

Deidra says she is more than grateful for the experience and the award. She told us what is next for her.

 

Deidra Smith, Queens Young Leaders Award Recipient

“For me, during the training there and just meeting some of the alumni really pushed me to do more. I met this guy who won the award last year and he also does a scholarship program. He started with giving 10 scholarships to primary school students and now he offers over 600 scholarships. It’s just amazing that the training we receive and learning how to get businesses and organizations involved to support you, you can do so much more. I am so excited to continue with what I am doing as well as starting new things all involving youth.”

 

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. As part of the Award, winners also received mentoring and online learning provided by the University of Cambridge.

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