Elijah Gilbert

THE WINNERS HAVE BEEN ANNOUNCED in a media competition for young people on the subject, ‘Anyone can make a difference: 21st Century Changemakers’ run by the Columban Missionary Society in Britain and Ireland.

Young people 13-18 years in Catholic Schools were asked to consider: Who in the world today is doing something about inequality, injustice, exclusion and environmental degradation? What can they teach us? The theme was based on a quote from young climate campaigner Greta Thunberg who has said: “no one is too small to make a difference”.

The British competition, for articles and images, attracted 156 entries from 24 Catholic schools. They were judged by a panels of media experts; Ruth Gledhill (Multi-Media Editor at The Tablet), Josephine Siedlecka (Founder and Editor of Independent Catholic News), Daisy Srblin, (Director of the Catholic youth social action charity Million Minutes) and James Trewby (Columban Education Worker).

The panel praised the high quality of all the entries shortlisted. James Trewby said: “The quality of entries blew me away and I was amazed at their energy and thoughtfulness.”

Jessica Saxon of St George’s College in Weybridge wrote the winning article about US politician and human rights campaigner Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Daisy Srblin said it was “a barnstorming piece of writing”. Jessica herself says, “only action by those who are brave enough – people like AOC and the person I would like to be – can encourage young minds to advocate for equality of everyone.”

The runner up was Mahi Sikan of Thomas More School in Bedford, who wrote about Basira Popul, an Afghan woman on a mission to improve the healthcare of her community in very difficult circumstances. Daisy Srblin said the article, “reminded us of the millions of people who do amazing work, without fame and acclamation”.

Ella Bothwell of St Richard Gwyn school in Flint, and Scarlett Peart-Lapidge of Bishop Thomas Grant in London took joint third place. Ella’s article on David Attenborough was described by Jo Siedlecka as “a really well written, mature piece combining a profile of David Attenborough with good summary of Catholic Social Teaching with references to Laudato Si  and Fratelli Tutti.” Scarlett’s article on Margaret Mizen was described as “a powerful account, with first hand reflections on the ways in which the Mizen family, specifically Margaret Mizen, turned their grief over the murder of their son into something powerful and hopeful, and created real change as a result.”

Elijah Gilbert of Richard Challoner School, New Malden won first prize in the images section for his collage of people of inspiration. His image ‘The Shatter of Inspiration’ showed a shattered glass with a different illustrations of influential people in each shard. Elijah said, “the people in the larger shatters have done an outstanding amount of things that one can be inspired by.” These include Pope Francis, Malala Yousafzai and Ugandan climate justice activist Vanessa Nakate. Daisy Sriblin said, “I love the thinking behind this image, reminiscent of stained glass in a Church, but featuring contemporary figures like Obama, Marcus Rashford and Pope Francis; visually it’s extremely striking, and an original and thoughtful idea.”

Second place in the images section went to Katherine Fawole of St Paul’s Academy in London, for her gouache painting of Greta Thunberg. “It communicates one of Thunberg’s most powerful quotations”, said Daisy Srblin, “and I particularly love the earthy colours, reminding us of our roots and our obligations to the planet.”

Oliver Lafite of Richard Challoner School and Paulette De Jose of Holy Cross School in New Malden came joint third. Oliver drew footballer Marcus Rashford as superman, saying “this is a man that has a lot of money and instead of being rich he wanted to help others in need.” Josephine Siedlecka felt it had “a simple and very clear message which works very well without words.”

Paulette produced a mixed media piece focusing on four ‘changemakers’ around the words, ‘Be the Change you want to see in the world.’ The four are: Amanda Gorman, a racial justice activist, Molly Burhans, an environmental activist, Jamie Margolin, an LGBTQ+ rights activist, and feminist Jaclyn Friedman. Paulette says, “in my opinion, these people are very inspiring, considering that they are confident in what they believe in and are fighting for it as well as relying on their faith to encourage and help them.” Daisy Srblin commented: “I love the blend of diversity, featuring famous voices like Amanda Gorman, and raising awareness of less well known but equally important advocates like Jamie Margolin. The diversity of using mixed media also demonstrates how change makers themselves use different means of advocacy, all of which are important. The faith motivations of the featured individuals is also a thoughtful observation.”

The Columbans thanked all the young people who entered the 2022 competition and the judging panel.

* Read the winning articles here.

* See the winning images here.

* Source: Columban Missionaries Britain