Sri Lankan named Commonwealth Young Person of the Year 2017


The co-founder of a foundation which supports persons with disabilities in Sri Lanka has been named Commonwealth Young Person of the Year 2017.

Krystle Reid co-founded Enable Lanka Foundation to break stereotypes and stigma, and was recognised along with three other outstanding regional winners in this year’s Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work.

Through her foundation, Krystle and her team have helped disabled young people to secure employment and become self-sufficient. She was also part of the first ever campaign in Sri Lanka aimed at encouraging participation of persons with disabilities in the electoral process.

On learning of her award, Krystle said, “Winning this award means that people do believe in our work and admitting the fight for the largest minority in the world is real.

“This award will definitely be advantageous as it would give more credibility to the work we do at Enable Lanka Foundation and bring more opportunities to collaborate with other organisations and like-minded people. It’s an opportunity to tap the many potential resources within the Commonwealth and to expand the work we do for the greater good.”

The Commonwealth Youth Awards for Excellence in Development Work, an initiative of the Commonwealth Secretariat’s youth programme, celebrate outstanding young adults aged under 30 who are leading initiatives ranging from poverty alleviation to peace-building.

This year’s winners, drawn from over 200 entries, are recognised for spearheading projects that will contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals – a set of 17 global targets that governments have committed to achieve by 2030.

At the awards ceremony on 15 March at Marlborough House, the Commonwealth’s headquarters in London, regional awards were presented to three other young people chosen from a shortlist of 17 finalists:

Charles Lipenga from Malawi – Commonwealth Africa Young Person of the Year
Jacqueline Joseph from Papua New Guinea – Commonwealth Pacific Young Person of the Year
Tricia Teekah from Guyana – Commonwealth Caribbean Young Person of the Year
The awards were presented by Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland, who praised all this year’s finalists for their efforts to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Secretary-General said, “With our Commonwealth Youth Awards we honour exceptional individuals whose practical sense of purpose is uplifting, and whose passion inspires us. I encourage anyone who thinks they can’t make a difference to follow the example of these youth leaders who are working in imaginative ways to make our world safer, and our societies fairer and more inclusive. Through determination and dedication these Commonwealth Youth Award nominees and finalists have achieved astonishing things for the common good.”

“Throughout the Commonwealth young people such as these are taking action as pioneers and change-makers whose contributions are essential to achieving national and global development goals, from halting the human impacts of climate change to countering poverty and discrimination.”

The awards were chosen by a panel of judges including representatives of Commonwealth High Commissions, Commonwealth organisations and young leaders.

This year’s Commonwealth young persons of the year were drawn from a shortlist of 17 finalists from 13 countries: Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Guyana, Jamaica, Malawi, Nigeria, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Saint Vincent and The Grenadines, Uganda and United Kingdom.