Nineteen young people from across the U.S. were recognized on July 1, what would have been Princess Diana's 58th birthday

By Simon Perry
July 01, 2019 11:07 AM
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On the day that would have been Princess Diana’s 58th birthday, some of the young people inspired to help their communities around the world in her name are being honored.

The Diana Award, which was established in her memory 20 years ago and has the support of her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry, announced the largest number of young people from the U.S. joining roll of honor.

More than 20 young people from across the U.S. are listed in the rundown of award winners. One of the award winners is being hosted at special evening at the House of Lords, Westminster, London on Monday.

The Americans represent the largest ever intake for the Diana Award — and follows the successful Changemakers campaign that was specifically set up to widen the impact of the charity. “There was a phenomenal response from across the States,” a spokeswoman says.

The “exceptional young people have demonstrated their ability to inspire and mobilize their own generation to service their communities through campaigning, volunteering, fundraising, tackling bullying or overcoming extreme life challenges.”

The chief executive of the award, Tessy Ojo, says, “We know by receiving this honor they will inspire more young people to get involved in their communities and begin their own journey as active citizens.”

The Americans included in this year’s list of award winners are Brandon Gruber, a 23 year old from Brentwood Union school district in California, for founding the 321life+1 Foundation, which helps disadvantaged migrant communities and those with Down’s Syndrome; Cory Alpert, 23, for organizing flood relief to families in South Carolina; Dea Kurtu, 17, of Novel Girls, in N.Y. for inspiring young women into STEM subjects; Elizabeth Niemiec, 25, of the Little Wish Foundation that helps children with cancer in Indianapolis; Jahkil Jackson, 11, who set up Project I Am to help homeless people in Illinois; Kamyr Krystal, 19, who helps people living with Alzheimer’s Disease in Puerto Rico; anti-bullying campaigners Kheris Rogers, 12, who started a clothing line to remind others they are beautiful, and Mahealani Sims-Tulba, 18, from Hawaii, who has written a book and delivers training; and Meagan Warren, 15, from Ohio, where she set up Books for Bedtime that collects and distributes books to children.

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The list also adds Minh Nguyen, 16, from California, of USPEAK a special media safe-place; Olivia Van Ledtje, 11, creator of LivBits, to inspire kids and teachers about reading; Olivia Woodrich, 20, from Oklahoma, who was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome, and has spoken on Capitol Hill about the syndrome; Salvador Gomez Colon, 16, from Michigan, for helping get humanitarian aid to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria; Shruthi Kumar, 16, Nebraska, for her GoYogi mindfulness program to manage stress; and Muscular dystrophy sufferer Tabitha Bell, 18, from Utah, whose Pawsitive Pawsibilities helps provide service dogs for disabled people.

And the honorees also include Tahiris Castillo, 21, Philadelphia, for volunteering with numerous NGOs and non-profits; Tyler Carach, 10, from Alabama, of “I Donut Need a Reason to Thank a Cop” which supports the police; aspiring surgeon Vanica Bajaj, 21, Boston, who’s started a project to provide mobile Breast Cancer Screening System for Ghana; Victor Ye, 16, from California, founded InnovaYouth, which promotes intellectual curiosity in the so-called Generation Z.

Last but not least, Kanchan Amatya, 23, an anti-poverty campaigner from Missouri, founded the youth-led social enterprise, Sustainable Fish Farming Initiative, and the founders of the YesSheCan Campaign, a non-profit made up of nine young people aged 15-23 from New Jersey, which focuses on inspiring girls and young women to continue their education and share their stories to make a difference. The organization runs 11 different programs across the U.S.