The future can no longer be: What is going to happen? It is: What are we going to do?
Thus wrote French 20th century philosopher Henri Bergson. In a tumultuous year like 2016 it is easy to succumb to a sense of helplessness in the face of mounting problems across the globe over which we seem to have little control. But everywhere, in every sphere, there are exceptional people showing the way and influencing the lives those around them for the better. That is exactly what The Queen's Young Leaders do, right across the Commonwealth.
Today we are announcing the third cohort of 60 Queen's Young Leaders. Chosen from amongst thousands of applicants from across the Commonwealth, this highly diverse group of young people, all aged under 30, are already making a difference around them and demonstrating exceptional leadership potential. From sometimes very difficult beginnings they have begun to change the lives of others, selflessly working for the common good. The scale of their achievements at such a young age can be truly remarkable. Take for example Winnifred Selby from Ghana. Aged just 21, she has already helped over 10,000 girls and young women through her initiatives to create socially responsible jobs - including building low-cost bikes from bamboo. Twenty-five-year-old Ankit Kawatra is linking up with caterers in India to ensure that excess food goes to those who cannot afford to feed themselves. In two years, he got 1,000,000 meals to those who needed them most. The work of The Queen's Young Leaders is not restricted to supporting others of their own age. Rianna Patterson of Dominica for example, aged just 19, has established Dominica Dementia to help families who have a member living with the condition. The causes The Queen's Young Leaders have chosen are not safe or easy. These young people may have faced considerable barriers to achieve their goals. None have waited to be asked or given permission to do what they do. Their drive and vision is an inspiration.
As Queen's Young Leaders they will be able to hone their leadership skills through distance learning with the University of Cambridge, and will be assigned personal mentors. In June 2017, as the 120 existing Queen's Young Leaders did this year and last, they will visit the United Kingdom to receive their award from Her Majesty The Queen. While there, they will meet a wide range of people and organisations including from the world of business, media, politics and social action, forging links which will help support their work in future. They will of course also meet each other, opening new avenues for collaboration across the Commonwealth.
While celebrating what they have achieved already The Queen's Young Leaders Programme will equip them with skills to take their work to the next level, and beyond. Quite how far it will take them we can only speculate. But whatever their chosen path, we can be sure that they will not be passively watching what is going to happen. They will be working out what to do, and doing it.
Full information on The Queen's Young Leaders Programme and the winners announced today at: www.queensyoungleaders.com