Two Jamaicans Shortlisted for 2016 Commonwealth Awards

Date Published: 
Friday, October 28, 2016

Jamaicans Gihon Mitchell and Michelle Thomas are among the youth workers shortlisted for the prestigious Commonwealth Youth Worker Awards for 2016. This year’s shortlist showcases leading youth workers who use sport and creative arts to inspire and support the development of underprivileged adolescents and young adults.

Mitchell has been a Youth Empowerment Officer with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information since 2013. He is also the founder of the Jamaica Floorball Association, which uses sport to promote human rights among young people.

Gihon Mitchell Youth Empowerment Officer Commonwealth Youth Worker of the Year Awards
Youth Empowerment Officer Gihon Mitchell


Thomas was recently appointed as a member of the Youth Advisory Council of Jamaica. She is the founder of ‘HerStory’, an initiative that uses art therapy to empower young single mothers and women in Jamaica. She is also the Director of Cultural Programmes of JAYECAN, a national youth-led organisation focused on culture and arts.

As part of an awards ceremony on 10 November, Commonwealth Youth Workers of the Year for Africa, Asia, Europe, Pacific, and Caribbean and Americas regions will also be announced from among the Finalists. Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland will present the awards.


Michelle Thomas Youth Advisory Committee Commonwealth Youth Worker Awards 2016
MIchelle Thomas (left) interacts with young ladies from the Vauxhall High School


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.”

The theme for Youth Work Week 2016 is ‘Empowering young people through sport and arts’, acknowledging the creative and innovative techniques that youth workers employ to deliver effective youth empowerment programmes.

The Commonwealth Youth Worker Awards recognise youth workers who are instrumental to the positive development of 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.

Miguel 'Steppa' Williams was awarded as the Youth Worker of the Year for the Caribbean and the Americas in 2015.