The Duke of Cambridge has called for "urgent change" to enable young people to "inherit a world of which we can be proud" as he showed his support for an ambitious new plan from a youth charity founded in his late mother's memory.
Prince William has written a moving foreword for the Diana Award as it launches its Future Forward strategy that sets out how it will empower young people to make positive change over the next five years.
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The father-of-three wrote about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected young people in particular, saying: "The lives of thousands of young people have been impacted by the global pandemic with education interrupted, work opportunities disrupted and social connections strained.
"Yet many of the young people who I have been fortunate to meet over the last year have shown an enormous passion and commitment to helping their communities recover and rebuild - and beyond that, are working hard to tackle the social inequality and injustice that they see in the world around them."
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The Diana Award was set up in memory of the late Diana, Princess of Wales
The Duke went on to praise the work of the charity, writing: "Organisations like The Diana Award have never been more important in nurturing the talent of young people and working with them to change the world for the better, by celebrating their successes; creating opportunities for growth; and ensuring that young people have a seat at the table.
"The world has changed significantly in the twenty years since The Diana Award was established in my mother's memory, however challenges remain, and urgent change is needed so that young people inherit a world of which we can be proud.
"Future Forward sets out The Diana Award’s blueprint for how change can be achieved, with young people at its heart. I am excited to see what The Diana Award and the young people it empowers can achieve together."
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William and Harry at the 2017 Diana Awards
The Diana Award was established in 1999 in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, and her belief that young people have the power to change the world.
The charity, which runs anti-bullying and mentoring programmes, also rewards young people who carry out inspiring work. Each year, thousands of young people are nominated by individuals and their communities to highlight these selfless acts.
Tessy Ojo, the Diana Award's chief executive, said: "We know young people are often closest to society's problems with many at risk of poor mental health and low social mobility.
"In the shadow of the pandemic, we need to take action now. Who better to lead that change than young people? We know young people have the talent, passion and insight to shape the future and lead the recovery.
"Our Future Forward strategy empowers young people to lead positive change."
William with the Diana Award's chief executive, Tessy Ojo, in 2015
William's brother, the Duke of Sussex, made a surprise appearance at this year's virtual awards.
Prince Harry told the winners in a special video message: "To all the 2021 Diana Award recipients thank you for inspiring us with your brilliance, your determination and your compassion, your actions hold the potential to leave a life changing impact. You are putting the 'do's' behind the 'say's', and this is the personification of our mother's legacy.
"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.
"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."
For more information about the Diana Award, visit diana.award.org.uk.
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