Canon crowns its Young Champions of the Year, working for social change

Students of Ibadan – image by Alabi Samuel Aniolaoluwa, U21s Canon Young Champion of the Year
(Image credit: Alabi Samuel Aniolaoluwa)

The Global Good Awards recognize people campaigning for sustainable change on social and environmental issues across the world. One of these awards, the Young Champion of the Year, is sponsored by Canon, and this year’s winners have just been announced at a virtual ceremony. 

Nigerian Alabi Samuel Anjolaoluwa was victorious in the under-21s category, for the series Students of Ibadan. This project shines a light on the struggles faced by under-served students in the city of Ibadan, Nigeria. 

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The judges said that Alabi had used the power of visual storytelling to not only raise awareness of the challenges that students face, but paint a poignant picture of the emotions that lie behind their stories.

"It is [about the] struggle and pain of students in Ibadan," says Alabi. "The students are mainly those in government schools and also those from low income families. I wanted know what it was like to be a student in Ibadan, share their stories, [so people can be] aware of what an average Ibadan or Nigerian student in a government school goes through to get educated."

Alabi Samuel Anjolaoluwa, winner in the U21s category (Image credit: Canon)

Mishal and Mir Firaz, a brother-and-sister team from the United Arab Emirates, were announced as the winners of the under-16s category, for their sustainability campaigning work. The two were praised by judges for their continued campaigning on environmental and social causes in the UAE.

Aged just eleven and fourteen, they have already been part of several initiatives in the country for more than seven years. They’ve also founded their own organization, Winshares, which shares used textbooks and uniforms for free, to help support access to education and reduce environmental waste.

Canon recently invited Mishal and Mir, alongside many other entrants, to take part in the UN’s Global Week to #Act4SDGs, by posting videos and photos about what they are doing to help achieve the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. 

Misha and Mir Faraz, winners in the U16 category (Image credit: Canon)

Award winners will receive a Canon EOS 250D to help them continue campaigning for sustainable change, while the other shortlisted finalists will each receive a Canon SELPHY Square QX10 mobile photo printer.

This year's submissions came in from individuals across the world, with finalists from UAE, USA, UK, Nigeria, India and Dubai. It's the second year of the Canon award, which was first introduced in 2020. Last year's winners were Bella Lack, in the 21-and-under category, and Nicole Fernandes de Silva, in the 16-and-under category.

Nicole’s winning entry focused on her work with the BIGKID Foundation in raising awareness of youth violence in South London. Bella was praised for her work to improve wildlife conservation, including helping set up Reserva: Youth Land Trust, which funds youth-driven wildlife preserves across the world.

For more information, visit the Global Good Awards website

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Tom May

Tom May is a freelance writer and editor specializing in art, photography, design and travel. He has been editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. He has also worked for a wide range of mainstream titles including The Sun, Radio Times, NME, T3, Heat, Company and Bella.