The Queen’s Young Leaders programme has announced that three Nigerians, Kennedy Ekezie-Joseph, Isaac Ezirim, and Hauwa Ojeifo have been chosen as three of the Queen’s Young Leaders Award winners in recognition of the lead they are taking in their communities to change lives.

The prestigious Awards programme, now in its fourth and final year, celebrates exceptional young people aged 18 to 29 from across the Commonwealth and the work they are undertaking to improve lives across a diverse range of issues, from supporting people living with mental health problems, helping children to receive a quality education, to promoting gender equality.

Kennedy, Issac and Hauwa will now join the Queen’s Young Leaders network of 240 Award winners, a unique community of influential change-makers, who represent all 52 Commonwealth countries. The winners  will receive their Award from Her Majesty The Queen at a special ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London, UK, next year.

Meet Hauwa Ojeifo

Hauwa Ojeifo has experienced a darker side of life. A bipolar and post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis in 2015 led her to start She Writes Woman in April 2016, when she could not find any support group to help her through her mental illness.

She Writes Woman is a movement of love, hope and support for women with mental illness. In July, just three months after its creation, She Writes Woman launched the first 24/7 mental illness helpline in Nigeria and have received calls locally and internationally since, helping people better understand mental illness and most important providing them with the right professional help.

In the words of the 25-year-old Business Administration graduate and fashion enthusiast, “Mental illness is not a death sentence, it is not wearing rags by the road in a bin pile. That’s the picture that always comes to mind even unconsciously. I always tell people that you can live an extraordinary life even with mental illness. I don’t try to be normal, I am extraordinary despite and in spite of my mental illness”. Hauwa is living the dream, here’s her story.

Speaking on her award, the 25 year old activist has this to say; “It’s such an honour to have been chosen to receive a Queen’s Young Leaders Award – a rare privilege to become a part of this diverse group of young people who are selflessly serving their communities. I can’t wait to meet the other Award winners, learn about their work and how this programme will further empower us for social change. I’m really excited to see what the year ahead will bring.”

Queen’s Young Leaders programme was established in 2014 by The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust in partnership with Comic Relief, The Royal Commonwealth Society and the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Continuing Education, in recognition of The Queen’s lifetime of service to humanity.

The Queen’s Young Leaders Award winners receive bespoke training, mentoring and networking opportunities, and take part in a residential programme in the UK, to help them build on the work they are leading in their communities. They join a now complete network of Award winners and, in tribute to Her Majesty The Queen’s lifetime of Service, will continue to connect and collaborate and change lives for years to come. Award winners will attend a residential programme in the UK in June, when they will receive their Award at Buckingham Palace from Her Majesty The Queen.

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