A teenager from Greater Victoria working in Kazakhstan is among the recipients of a 2022 Diana Award for social work and humanitarian efforts.
Matthew Yang, 16, a pupil of Glenlyon Norfolk School, has always enjoyed the leadership, process of creating and organizing events in Victoria, and bringing them to benefit more people, whether for help charity, fundraising or sports.
The teenager, currently in Kazakhstan working for UNESCO in Almaty to study Kazakh poet Abai Qunanbaiuly, is among the recipients of this prestigious award, for going beyond expectations in everyday life to create and sustain positive change.
Established in 1999 in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, the award is given by the charity of the same name and is supported by her two sons, William and Harry. The charity promotes, develops and inspires positive change through four key programs which include: a mentorship program for at-risk youth; a youth-led anti-bullying ambassador campaign; a collaborative program of change that aims to reinvent mental health supports for youth from racialized communities; and the Diana Prize which publicly rewards young agents of change.
Yang was alerted to the award when a college professor asked permission to nominate him for his work to create equality and raise awareness for mental health with the nonprofit he started – Global Scholars Union.
“At GSU, we believe in equality in education, regardless of a student’s background or identity,” he said.
The youth organization aims to challenge inequalities in education by providing classroom lessons to students in need around the world. Recognizing the importance of children’s mental health, GSU focuses on developing moral principles and emotional intelligence in students so that future generations can grow into vigorous global citizens. The organization has expanded to include Africa, Europe and Asia and has impacted thousands of poor young people around the world.
Although winning an award – even as prestigious as the Diana Award – is not her mission, Yang is aware that it can help her achieve her goal of creating educational equality.
“It’s a strange dynamic since I always, and always, believed that it was an obligation for me to give back to the society that has helped me so much in the past. But if I can use my voice to inspire more young people to do social work within their community. I will be delighted,” he told Black Press Media.
He plans to continue to carry out his humanitarian work in a variety of ways, including inspiring other young people to use creative ideas to solve social problems and providing a roadmap to make a transformative difference.
Learn more about the nonprofit at mygsu.org.
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Young Canadians Awards