A Cadbury Sixth Form College student has been honoured with The Diana Award for going above and beyond in her daily life to create and sustain positive change. Zaynab Sohawon, aged 19, has been recognised with the highest accolade a young person can achieve for social action or humanitarian efforts – The Diana Award.
Having experienced mental health services first-hand, Zaynab is determined to change how her provision is designed and delivered. Her passion comes from her intense desire to use her own experience for the good of others. She is involved in a myriad of projects for mental health services and charities, including steering committees, expert by experience groups, research advisory panels, research organisations, councils and guest lecturing spots.
Zaynab gives lectures for the University of Birmingham’s Institute for Mental Health and Birmingham City University. She has also worked with the University of Oxford as an adviser on a research review programme for youth mental health. By sharing her intensely personal story, Zaynab hopes to inspire others in her situation and to help professionals shape their approach to mental health care and support more effectively.
Zaynab said she was “humbled and honoured to receive such a prestigious accolade”. “I feel like getting the Diana Award is a gateway to much bigger opportunities within the mental health activism field and a greater chance to touch more lives. There is an element of not feeling good enough to be among such a myriad of outstanding and admirable young people who also received the award but I know I, myself, have had a big impact on the community and shouldn't doubt myself. I am grateful to my Cadbury teachers for allowing me time to do my activism work and for understanding its importance.”
The Chemistry, Biology and Psychology student aspires to a career in neuroscience where she hopes to do postgraduate mental health research into personality disorders. She has already detailed her personal experiences in her book Miscellaneous Memoirs of the Mad, written under her pen name ZeZe Jones. The brave account has received excellent reviews and is available on Amazon.
Established in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, the Award is given out by the charity of the same name and has the support of both her sons, The Duke of Cambridge and The Duke of Sussex.
Tessy Ojo, CEO of The Diana Award, said: “We congratulate all our new Diana Award recipients who are changemakers 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. For over twenty years The Diana Award has valued and invested in young people encouraging them to continue to make positive change in their communities and lives of others.”