Grenadian wins Commonwealth Youth Award
London – The creation of climate-smart farms not only got Grenadian Bevon Chadel Charles the attention of the Commonwealth but earned her an award at the Commonwealth Youth Awards this year.
Two other regional youth – Dr Camir Ricketts and Brent Alexander Scotland – have stood out as COVID-19 heroes for their efforts in addressing the challenges posed by the pandemic in their communities.
The annual Commonwealth Youth Awards recognise the contributions of young people whose projects are transforming lives in their communities and helping achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
And when five young people were named regional winners for their exceptional work on promoting clean energy, good health, food security and quality education, Charles was among them, taking a bow for her work as the founder of Akata Farms, an organisation which builds self-sustainable farms across the Caribbean – an effort which focuses on SDG two – zero hunger.
“It is an honour to be selected among the brilliant youth leaders from across the Commonwealth,” she said after accepting her award on Wednesday at the ceremony which was hosted virtually for the first time due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and broadcast by major regional outlets and news agencies, including the Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) via its pan-Caribbean channel, CaribVision and terrestrial stations across the region.
“We have a substantial amount of food being imported to Grenada, which could be produced locally. It is one of our missions to reduce our national import dependence while creating sustainable farms throughout the region,” Charles added.
Her farms operate across 100 acres providing fresh, quality goods in-person and online. Akata Farms also provides peer-to-peer mentorship to young people, particularly women looking to start businesses in agriculture.
Charles received £3 000 (US$4 177) for her project.
Although they were not winners at the actual awards, three other young people from the region were also recognised: Taahir Bulbulia of Barbados, founder of the Sports Science Society, a student-based organisation that promotes the holistic benefits of sport and provides mentorship to at-risk youth on mental health, sports law and drug prevention; Dawsher Charles of Trinidad and Tobago, founder of Survival Scholars, a project that promotes self-care, good mental health and well-being to at-risk and disadvantaged youths through social and emotional learning skills, the arts and storytelling; and Jubilanté Cutting of Guyana, founder of the Guyana Animation Network which raises awareness and advocates for youth opportunities and skills training in digital media, animation and the STEM subjects.
The four were among 20 young inventors, activists and entrepreneurs who were chosen as finalists from the more than 1 000 entries received from 43 Commonwealth countries following a rigorous judging process.
Also in the spotlight on Wednesday were Jamaican Dr Camir Ricketts and Brent Alexander Scotland of Antigua and Barbuda who were among ten people from ten countries named Commonwealth Youth COVID-19 Heroes.
Ricketts is the founder of MindsOf Initiative, a programme which increases young people’s access to career mentorship and S.T.E.A.M training opportunities. He co-launched an online app helping 100 000 people find their nearest COVID-19 testing sites, and raised US$4 000 in funds to purchase devices and mobile data for students affected by the pandemic.
Addressing the virtual ceremony, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said the awards are “a vitally important expression of our collective commitment to young people”.
“This means investing in you and with you, so that there are ample opportunities for you to empower yourselves and to engage more widely to bring change at all levels,” she said.
“Those being honoured with awards today show us what it is possible to achieve . . . . Even in times of restriction and isolation we, as a Commonwealth family, can support each other and mobilise for dynamic change and progress.” (CMC)