Newmarket’s Manha Yusuf is being recognized with the prestigious international Diana Award for her social action and humanitarian efforts.
The 10-year-old received the accolade, which honours young people who go above and beyond in their daily life to create and sustain positive change, in a special online ceremony today.
She has organized numerous fundraising campaigns for local charities over the past two years, with the support of her younger sister, Laiba, and mother.
In 2019, she started Stamp Out Stigma to raise awareness of mental health and reduce the stigma of mental illness. She now organises fundraisers to collect financial and in-kind donations to empower women and children who have experienced domestic violence, homelessness and mental health treatment. Over the past two years, the project has raised $26,550.
Since then she has taken on a number of initiatives, including raising funds and supplies for Newmarket’s Inn From The Cold shelter, SickKids Hospital, and the Canadian Mental Health Association.
Manha's Back to School initiative collects backpacks and school supplies for children, and has provided $5,000 worth of new quality winter gear to vulnerable young mothers, donated $2,000 in new toys and books to SickKids Hospital in Toronto, and supported the Canadian Mental Health Association to provide more than 100 care boxes to patients and their families.
One of the organizations for which she volunteers and fundraises nominated Manha for the award, which has been given out for 21 years.
Panels of judges reviewed the criteria and selected nearly 400 young people aged nine to 25 from around the globe to receive the award.
“We congratulate all our new Diana Award recipients from the U.K. and all over the globe who are change-makers for their generation. We know by receiving this honour they will inspire more young people to get involved in their communities and begin their own journey as active citizens,” Tessy Ojo, CEO of the Diana Award said.
The awards, which were created in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, were celebrated with a virtual ceremony on June 28.
Manha said she is excited to receive this award and is inspired to keep doing social work in the future.
As part of the online celebration, Prince Harry shared a message for the recipients who he said were "a force to be reckoned with."
"To all the 2021 Diana Award recipients, thank you for inspiring us with your brilliance, your determination and your compassion," he said. "Your actions hold the potential to leave a life-changing impact."
He went on to say that he hopes the recipients inspire others to do good in the world.
"To everyone else watching, I'm hopeful that today's award recipients have inspired you to be part of a future where humanity is cherished. Where our communities are supported and uplifted and where we are considerate and compassionate to each other both online and off," Prince Harry said. "Never be afraid to do what's right, stand up for what you believe in and trust that when you live by truth and in service to others people will see that just as they did with my mum."