LONDON: Three young Pakistanis were honoured on Tuesday with the Queen’s Young Leaders Awards at the Buckingham Palace, with the UK’s Elizabeth II bestowing the accolades to the youth in a festive ceremony. Haroon Yasin, Hassan Mujtaba Zaidi and Mahnoor Syed are the three young Pakistanis who have made their motherland proud with their big achievement. The Queen’s Young Leaders Awards are given on the basis of the youth’s community services and recognise exceptional people between the ages 18 to 29, across the Commonwealth, who are taking a lead in their communities and using their skills to transform lives. Supporting underprivileged people in her community, Mahnoor Syed’s start-up Spread the Word began when she partnered with seven schools to hold extra-curricular workshops for students on issues such as bullying, child abuse and mental and physical health. Spread the Word now has 300 volunteers from all over Pakistan. In addition, Syed has partnered with an organisation called Khwajasira Support to raise funds for the vocational training of 50 transgender persons. Having founded Orenda, Haroon Yasin is dedicated to providing children from underprivileged backgrounds a chance to receive a good education. With a mission to build a dynamic education model to help young children develop, his project teaches Pakistani children the national curriculum through an engaging digital education model. Mujtaba Zaidi uses art to help educate marginalised young people in Pakistan. His creation is Discovering New Artists (DNA), which offers free art training, as well as primary and secondary education, to students who are unable to afford school fees. To fund school projects, DNA raises money through its Art for Change initiative, which is a national child art competition geared towards forging links between young people in privileged and underprivileged communities. Britain’s Prince Harry and his wife Meghan Markle were among those who greeted the winners of the special youth leadership award. He also addressed the “future leaders” from Commonwealth countries at the reception where they were presented with a medal for outstanding contributions. “You are the future leaders who will need to pick up the baton on issues such as climate change, food security, equality and access to education, and improving the lives of the most vulnerable people in our communities,” Prince Harry told the winners. Meghan Markle, wearing a white Prada suit with black shoes, and Prince Harry, in a dark suit, chatted and joked with the award winners. The ceremony was also attended by soccer star David Beckham and former United Kingdom prime minister John Major. Launched back in 2014 by Princes William and Harry, the Queen’s Young Leaders Awards programme is now in its fourth and final year and many of the previous winners have had the privilege of meeting Prince Harry, both in London and in their home countries across the Commonwealth. Winners of the prestigious award receive a unique package of training, mentoring, and networking, including a one-week residential programme in the UK, during which they collect their award from Her Majesty the Queen. Published in Daily Times, June 28th 2018.