Maya Kirti Nanan, the visionary Founder of the Autism Siblings and Friends Network (ASFN), has been honored as the Commonwealth Young Person of the Year for 2023. This prestigious recognition was bestowed upon her at the Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work.
The award was presented to her by His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Edward, alongside the Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, during an illustrious event held on September 14, 2023, at the regal St James’s Palace in London.
Maya Kirti Nanan’s brainchild, ASFN, is headquartered in Trinidad and Tobago and stands as a non-profit organization committed to creating opportunities for individuals with special needs. The heart of ASFN lies in Rahul’s Clubhouse, an autism center designed to provide equal access to developmental and social programs for people with autism. Remarkably, ASFN is actively engaged in the development of educational, social, and skills programs that cater to the needs of over 10,000 autistic individuals. In recognition of her outstanding work, Ms. Nanan was also granted the regional prize for the Caribbean.
In addition to the remarkable achievements of Maya Kirti Nanan, the Commonwealth Youth Awards also celebrated four other exceptional regional winners:
- Mawuse Christina Gyisun – Africa Regional Winner
- Soumya Dabriwal – Asia Regional Winner
- Yi Fei Chen – Europe & Canada Regional Winner
- Raeed Ali – Pacific Regional Winner
Commonly referred to as the Commonwealth Youth Awards, this prestigious event acknowledges the pivotal role played by young individuals aged 15-29 in fortifying democracy and striving towards the attainment of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The awards ceremony was conducted as part of the Commonwealth Youth Ministers Meeting, drawing the participation of government ministers, senior government officials, youth leaders, and various stakeholders, creating a truly momentous occasion.
This glittering awards ceremony also served as a fitting tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. These awards constitute a vital instrument through which the Commonwealth Secretariat empowers, engages, and uplifts the voices and contributions of youth from its 56 member states.
A total of fifty remarkable young people were spotlighted for their exceptional contributions this year. Among the shortlisted candidates were inspiring figures such as social entrepreneurs, environmental champions, innovators, and human rights activists, all hailing from diverse corners of the Commonwealth. From this esteemed group, twenty finalists were chosen, each of whom will receive a trophy, a certificate, and a prize of £1,000. Notably, the regional winners will receive an additional prize of £2,000.
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