Suleman Arshad, a youth worker from Pakistan, has won the Commonwealth Youth Worker Award 2016 from the Asia Region in recognition of his services for the empowerment of youth in Pakistan through sports.
Youth Worker Professionals from 14 different countries were selected as finalists of 2016 Commonwealth Youth Worker Awards. The countries included, Australia, Belize, Fiji, Guyana, Jamaica, India, Kenya, Malta, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, South Africa, Tonga and the United Kingdom. All the finalists have founded or managed projects on sports and arts. The award was announced on 10th of November during the Youth Work Week running from 7-13th November, in a ceremony held at Commonwealth Secretariat’s headquarters, Marlborough House, in London.
Suleman is the founder and the president of the Pakistan’s first ever Para Climbing Club. Despite his visual impairment, he has worked on inclusive sports empowerment programs in Pakistan. Suleman is also a Social Entrepreneur, Youth Parliamentarian and a Disability Expert.
Suleman was unable to attend the ceremony because he couldn’t get the British visa in time. His video message was played at the ceremony in which he thanked the Commonwealth Secretariat for recognizing his work and efforts aimed at empowering youth in Pakistan to create a positive impact on the society. He also said that the award was a huge encouragement which would help him serve the youth with more vigor. In his thank you note, he also said:
For those young people who did not have any sports opportunities, this club has not only empowered them but also provides them with opportunities which they did not have before, demolishing their negative image and creating a positive impact on society. This award proves that I am doing something good. I feel very encouraged and I believe that this will tremendously improve my work. For me it will remove hurdles and will also help me in achieving my milestones.
Pakistan High Commission to the United Kingdom Syed Ibne Abbas, commended his dedication and hard work that brought him the prestigious award. He called him a role model for the youth and the true reflection of Pakistan.
Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Deodat Maharaj said:
If we are to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and end poverty and inequality, young people have an important role to play, as do youth work professionals who offer vital support and encouragement. This year’s awards celebrate outstanding youth workers who use sport and the arts to engage young people and help them to express and promote their identities and talents. Their efforts contribute to the health, education, gender equality and social cohesion of communities and nations
Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland, who presented the awards stated:
I salute the hugely impressive recipients of these 2016 Commonwealth Youth Worker Awards. They represent thousands of youth workers across the Commonwealth whose work to empower and engage our young people too often goes unsung and unrecognized. It is of immense and enduring value in building resilient communities and overcoming the economic and social divisions that create vulnerability – locally, national and globally.