On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Commonwealth Youth Programme, 50 exceptionally talented young individuals have been chosen this year. The finalists consist of social innovators, advocates for the environment, pioneers in various fields, and defenders of human rights, representing different parts of the Commonwealth.
Mathura Kannan, Co-Founder and Advisor of Ascendance, an International Youth Organization in Malaysia, has been named a finalist for the 2023 Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work out of around 1,000 entries. Organized by the Commonwealth Youth Programme, these awards recognize and celebrate exceptional individuals aged 15 to 29 across the Commonwealth who lead impactful and sustainable development efforts within their communities.
Mathura has secured her position as a Regional Finalist for Asia, standing out among 20 global finalists. In recognition of her achievement, she will be granted £1,000 (equivalent to RM5,837) to enhance the growth of her project. Additionally, she will receive a trophy and a certificate bestowed by the Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.
“These awards are a source of pride for us at the Secretariat, and particularly the Secretary-General, as we have wholeheartedly committed to empowering and amplifying young people. These 20 regional finalists have sacrificed much and it is with great pleasure that we have an opportunity to reward them,” quoting Layne Robinson, The Commonwealth Secretariat’s Head of Social Policy Development, from the Commonwealth website.
In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Commonwealth Youth Programme, His Royal Highness Prince Edward, Duke of Edinburgh, who has long championed youth causes and promoted development opportunities for young people, will attend the award ceremony at St James’s Palace in London.
Mathura Kannan’s selection highlights her dedication to advancing Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, which focuses on ensuring Quality Education. Alongside fellow co-founders Harsha Ravindran, Sanadtkumar Ganesan, and Heerraa Ravindran, she has played a pivotal role in Ascendance’s journey. For the past eight years, their collective efforts have positively influenced over 50,000 students.
The organization provides a distinctive platform that enables students to uncover their interests, nurture their career paths during their school years, and contribute to their communities. This, in turn, serves as an inspiration, aiming to empower a million teenagers to partake in this transformative journey.
“I am super honoured to be selected as a Finalist for the Commonwealth Youth Awards. This recognition reinforces our commitment to empowering students and fostering positive change within communities. I am thrilled to share this achievement with the founders of Ascendance – Harsha, Sanadt and Heerraa and all those who have supported and contributed to Ascendance’s mission,” remarked Mathura Kannan.
Kasthoori Munusamy, the mother of Mathura Kannan, shared a touching and motivational message, conveying her feelings of astonishment and thankfulness upon discovering her daughter’s nomination for the accolade,
“I’m bursting with joy! I was pleasantly surprised and grateful. This nomination is a great honour for Mathura and the whole team at Ascendance. A recognition like this urges like-minded young people to keep striving for excellence,” said Kasthoori Munusamy. “Know that your family will always cheer you on!” she added.
On September 14, 2023, the 2023 Commonwealth Youth Awards winners will be announced during the Commonwealth Youth Ministerial Meeting in London. The standout contestant from each geographical region will be awarded £3,000 as the victor for their region. Among these five regional champions, a single individual will earn the distinguished title of the Commonwealth Young Person of the Year 2023 and be granted a prize of £5,000.
The collaboration between the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust (QCT) is set to persist, providing an additional grant of £20,000 to a project highlighted at the award ceremony. This funding will be distributed over a period of two years. The winner of this grant will also become a participant in QCT’s Youth Ventures Programme, granting them access to mentorship and growth prospects.