June 2, 2021


By 2019 Diana Award recipient, Sarah Mahamood from Rochdale, UK

Sarah works tirelessly to change the lives of young people in Rochdale Borough by continuing to campaign around issues affecting young people. She has successfully fundraised for important causes such as Springhill Hospice for end-of-life care inspiring Neeli Mosque to do the same.

Power of Youth Day is an annual celebration of the contributions young people make to society through volunteering and social action. This year, Power of Youth Day will take place on 2 June. It’s a chance to spotlight the achievements of young people and inspire young people to make a difference.  

Since a young age, I’ve been interested in making a difference to my local community in any way possible. Living in a deprived area in the UK, where many have often struggled to meet basic needs, motivated me to address this issue and do something that will change the future for the better. One of the greatest things about taking action in communities is that it’s mutually beneficial – young people can see for themselves the difference that they can make.

Sarah is a tireless campaigner who raises awareness around issues affecting young people and fundraises for important causes.

I was further inspired when I came across a quote from Kailash Satyarthi:

“The power of youth is the common wealth for the entire world. The faces of young people are the faces of our past, our present and our future. No segment in the society can match with the power, idealism, enthusiasm and courage of the young people.”

A few years ago, I began to realise that mental health is not treated with the same reverence as a physical health issue, despite it having the same debilitating effects. This is a problem locally, nationally and internationally. I decided to run for the local elections, and I became a Member of the UK Youth Parliament with a record-breaking 3804 votes. I was so pleased to see that young people in my Borough put their trust in me and I was excited to start making a positive difference.

In 2019, Sarah received her Diana Award for her youth service.

Through my term as MYP, I campaigned for mental health funding by chairing meetings, working with #thrive and kooth.com, debating in the House of Commons and organising awareness events. During mental health awareness week, I visited several local schools in my area and educated young people on this important issue. Every person struggling with their mental health should be treated fairly, positively and with respect. If we are going to develop a mentally healthy society, giving people the tools to thrive is fundamental. Resilience is a universal skill we all need to help each other learn.

Public awareness is important to increase enthusiasm and support, stimulate action, and mobilise local knowledge and resources. Raising political awareness is also important as politicians are key decision–makers in the policy process of adaptation. There are multiple awareness-raising strategies, methods and tools that can be used to spread messages and to gather the support necessary to influence public opinion.  

Depending on the topic, awareness-raising efforts may include the following activities: issuing press releases, briefings and commentaries; disseminating reports, studies and publications; making written or oral submissions to parliamentary committees and inquiries; working with the media; holding public meetings and events; convening conferences and workshops; creating and contributing to educational materials. Messaging campaigns should be clear and simple, associated with a campaign logo or a consistent image, sustained over time, and should form part of a larger coordinated strategy.

So, on Power of Youth Day today, I encourage you to take action to make a difference in your community.

Sarah at 2019 Diana Award ceremony.

Below I have listed 3 powerful ways in which you can get involved:

1. Contact your local charity shops and ask if you can volunteer, as you’re passionate about making a difference. You can make a difference by organising charity events, for example a quiz night, Makeup Masterclass, or a Dress to Impress Ball. Make sure you inform the local community through posters and social media, so you have the best turnout!

2. Educate yourself on your local community. Making a difference should start off small in your area. Email your local council asking for key issues that need tackling. After discovering this, think about ways you can improve these issues. Gather a group of friends and discuss ways you can make a change.

3. Finally, the most important tip is to be mindful of those around you. Little things make a big difference. Maybe you can help your classmate who is struggling or help the old lady with her shopping. These acts of kindness have a large impact and truly make the world a better place!

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