Prince Harry opened OnSide's first London Youth Zone in Barking and Dagenham earlier this year, and he and Meghan Markle also visited The Hive, Birkenhead’s Youth Zone

By Stephanie Petit
November 17, 2019 12:30 PM

Prince Harry is adding some royal power to a brand new way to recognize youth making a difference in their communities.

The royal dad attended the inaugural Onside Awards at Royal Albert Hall on Sunday, doing his part to recognize young people, volunteers and staff’s achievements.

Harry, 35, met young Youth Zone attendees and award nominees, then delivered a short speech before presenting the OnSide Health and Wellbeing Award.

“I’ve been to lots of events in this building, but the energy here tonight is truly something special and of course I feel privileged to be part of this community, so thanks for having me! All of this tonight would not be possible without the incredible network of like-minded organizations, who are united in showing young people a positive future,” he said. “It is with real pleasure that I can tonight announce the newest member of the OnSide family – the schools’ mental health charity Place2Be. Through a collaboration brought together by the City of London, Place2Be’s mental health services will become available in Youth Zones, starting with Future Youth Zone in London later this month. This, of course, is fantastic news as sometimes a lack of mental fitness can be the biggest blocker to our own ability to succeed.”

Credit: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images

Harry added, “By understanding our own mental health as much as we do our physical health, by knowing what makes us thrive rather than just survive, we’ll be unlocking such incredible potential for ourselves and more young people up and down the country. So, for everyone involved in making this happen, thank you.”

Awards were presented to those who have made a real difference in their community, have a breakthrough talent or have overcome challenging circumstances. Over 2,500 young people will travel from across the U.K. for the event, which will also feature performances from popular artists such as John Newman, The Script and Ms. Banks as well as OnSide’s very own talented young stars.

Credit: Tristan Fewings/Getty Images

OnSide is a charity focused on creating state-of-the-art facilities called “Youth Zones” that give young people safe and inspiring places to spend their leisure time. In April, the Duke of Sussex opened OnSide’s first London Youth Zone in Barking and Dagenham. Harry and Meghan Markle also visited The Hive, Birkenhead’s Youth Zone where they watched a dance troupe perform, in January.

Located in areas of disadvantage, Youth Zones are open to young people aged 8 to 19, or 25 with a disability, seven days a week throughout the year. Staffed by professional youth and activity workers and an army of volunteers, Youth Zones are packed with 20 activities every session, catering for all sporting, creative and social interests.

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Harry took over the role of Commonwealth Youth Ambassador from the Queen in April 2018. He and Meghan see the Commonwealth as taking an important role in their working life.

In a speech given in January, the prince said, “Nearly 12 months into the job, I can honestly say I feel more passionate than ever about the huge opportunity we have here: To empower young people across the Commonwealth, you who are here in this room today, and the millions around the world who are part of this global collective of change-makers.”