Home >News and events >News >National Finalists of 2015 Youth Worker Awards announced

Miguel ‘Steppa’ Williams, founder of Jamaica’s Forward Step Foundation and a National Finalist for the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Worker Awards.

National Finalists of 2015 Youth Worker Awards announced

26 October 2015

Youth workers from eleven countries – Australia, the Bahamas, Fiji, Ghana, Jamaica, Kenya, Malta and Nauru, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Uganda – have been named as the National Finalists of the 2015 Commonwealth Youth Worker Awards.

The Commonwealth announced the final list of fourteen outstanding youth work professionals today – a week before the Commonwealth Youth Worker of the Year will be named during international Youth Work Week, from 2-8 November 2015.

Commonwealth Deputy Secretary-General Deodat Maharaj, who will present the award, stated: “The Commonwealth Youth Worker Awards recognise the achievements of youth workers, who often work in difficult circumstances, have very few resources and yet make a big difference to the lives of young people. Every youth worker named today should feel justifiably proud of their efforts, for they are national heroes.”

Among the National Finalists is the founder of an NGO in Pakistan which helps young people to reject extremism, hate speech and violence against women, and a youth activist from Fiji who encourages young people to engage peacefully with elections.

The Commonwealth Youth Worker Awards celebrate the achievements of youth workers and their enduring influence on young people. Youth workers can be found in a broad range of civil society and voluntary organisations as well as government ministries and youth departments.

As part of an awards ceremony on 5 November, Commonwealth Youth Workers of the Year for Africa, Asia, Europe, Pacific, and Caribbean and Americas regions will also be announced from among the National Finalists.

The theme for Youth Work Week 2015 is Youth Workers Creating Paths to Peace, which acknowledges the exceptional contribution of youth workers in peacebuilding and social cohesion.

Katherine Ellis, Youth Director at the Commonwealth Secretariat, said: “Now in its fourth year as a global event, Youth Work Week puts the spotlight on youth workers whose contribution to society is often overlooked. These dedicated professionals help to foster connections and a sense of belonging among young people, which helps to build peace and prevent conflict, crime and violence.”

The National Finalists for the Commonwealth Youth Worker Awards 2015 (in alphabetical order) are:




Ghana – Prosper Yaw Hoetu

Prosper is part of the Youth Network for Human Rights and Democracy. He has been working to promote peace in communities in Ghana which have seen conflict. Engaging youth participation, mentoring and leadership training, Prosper has contributed to peacebuilding in these neighbourhoods.


Pakistan – Muhammad Shahzad

Muhammad is founder of Pakistan’s Chanan Development Association, which supports the empowerment of young people and the active rejection of extremism, hate speech and violence against women. 


Kenya – Eric Omwanda Nehemiah

Eric works for the Mathare Foundation, based in the Mathare slums of Kenya. He has provided young people with a mechanism to channel their talents through photography and divert them from crime, alcoholism and prostitution. 

Pakistan – Gulalai Ismail

Gulalai is founder of the NGO Aware Girls, which encourages young women and men to participate civic processes and peacebuilding, and addresses violence against women through leadership development programmes. 


Uganda – Victor Ochen

Victor is a founder of the African Youth Initiative Network, a Ugandan NGO that works to empower young persons to promote democratic leadership and civic engagement in communities which have faced conflict. He was a Nobel Peace Prize Nominee in 2015.


Sri Lanka – Anomaa Rajakaruna

Anomaa is founder of Agenda 14, which supports freedom of speech in post-conflict Sri Lanka. She helps young people to engage with peacebuilding and youth empowerment through film documentary, which allows for dialogue on conflict resolution. 

The Caribbean


The Bahamas - John Ronald Darville

John has carried forward a number of key initiatives as a youth development specialist within the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Culture in the Bahamas, working closely with at-risk migrant youth populations.


Malta – Christian Mizzi

Christian is a youth worker with Agenzija Zghazagh, who has worked to build community cohesion among at-risk young people in Malta.


Jamaica – Miguel ‘Steppa’ Williams’

Steppa is the founder of the Forward Step Foundation. He uses music and other creative forms of engagement in prisons and among gangs to promote youth empowerment.


Malta – Stephanie Fenech

Stephanie is a youth worker with Malta’s Yours Empowerment Group, focussing on improving youth participation and engagement of vulnerable youth.


Jamaica – Edward Dixon

Edward has been leading violence prevention, youth development and social engagement work with Youth Crime Watch of Jamaica


The Pacific



Fiji - Ioane Tupou Nawaikula

Ioane is a youth development activist with the National Youth Council of Fiji who has worked to promote young people’s peaceful civic participation during elections. 

Australia – Ian Gowing

Ian has worked with young people from indigenous communities and other at-risk communities in Australia, with the Balga Detached Youth Work Project Incorporated.   


Nauru - Alpha Gwein Jose

Alpha is National Youth Co-ordinator for the Directorate of Youth Affairs in the Pacific island nation of Nauru. He has worked to give vulnerable young people a sense of purpose and contributed to the social cohesion of the island.

Find out more about the Youth Worker Awards and Youth Work Week and download resources

The Commonwealth Secretariat’s youth development work is delivered through the Commonwealth Youth Programme, which has been running for over 40 years.

Social media

Join the panel discussion on 'Policy imperatives for youth work in peace-building & social cohesion', which is taking place 5 November, 4.30-5.30pm, by tweeting your questions using #Commonwealth #Paths2Peace. 

Join the conversation online: @CommonwealthSec @ComSecYouth #YWW15 #Commonwealth #YoungCommonwealth