At the age of 19, he’s already accomplished things other 19-year-olds (some) could only dream of. Ajani Lebourne has an insatiable hunger for success; a desire to bring about change in the youth community; a desire to live a life of purpose—to become a leader, a revolutionary figure—a youth activist.
The Micoud resident is following in the footsteps of peer Tevin Shepherd, who last year, made headlines when it was announced that he would be receiving the Queen’s Young Leader Award.This year it is Ajani’s time to shine. In June, the teenager will visit Buckingham Palace where he will be accepting the aforementioned award.
The award is bestowed to youthwho have sparked great change within their community.
“Earlier this year I was awarded out of 60 young people throughout the Commonwealth—it’s something that I’m still trying to snap out of because you see the thing is, seeing where I came from, to where I am now, I just think it’s just God’s calling; it’s just been so inspirational,” the young leader said to me in an interview.
“The Queen’s Young Leaders Award is one which comprises of a year-long course offered by Cambridge University which aligns me to various mentors; it puts me in a position where I’m able to push change throughout the community through different mediums. To me the key thing is the mentorship because I want to be able to be in a situation where I can learn from somebody who has been there before,” he expounded.
The teen recently started the programme, and stated that the experience has been wonderful thus far.
Says Ajani: “I thought I was the youngest person there but there are so many other 19-year-olds doing so much throughout the Commonwealth—young people are trying to find a cure for AIDS; young people who are gaining funds so that they can provide funds to parents so that they can send children to school—it’s amazing.”
But you may be wondering what he has accomplished (if you’re not aware of what he has done of course)—I’ll be happy to enlighten you.
The Vieux Fort Comprehensive Secondary School and Sir Arthur Lewis College (SALCC) graduate is responsible for bringing about change to the National Students Council (NSC) and has donated his time to numerous causes, especially volunteer work.
“I am extremely passionate about volunteerism,” he said, sharing that he has volunteered with organizations like the National Youth Council (NYC) and Ministry of Youth Development and Sports.
“I grew up being that person who wanted to make a change because I saw the different issues that the young people within my community were facing and I wanted to be that person to make a difference, so I was always looking for little opportunities to do something different,” he added, also telling me that he was a member of the ‘Youth Empowered to Serve’ church group, Master Guide and ‘Pathfinder’, groups which provided him with the opportunity to make a difference.
Speaking on his work with the NSC, the former NSC general secretary and president explained that initially, the group never appealed to him as at the time, he was preoccupied with other things—sitting at the lunch table with his friends and exchanging jokes, being one of them.
“It so happened that I was invited to a summer camp, it was the ‘Lucian Leaders Summit’ (hosted by the NYC); that was the first camp of its kind. I was invited to that camp and I really didn’t want to go because at that time as I saw it as taking away from valuable time from my summer,” Ajani said laughing.
“My mom really wanted me to participate and thought that it was something I needed to be engaged in and she forced me to participate; that camp changed my life. It changed my perspective on volunteerism and my perspective on being a proper citizen,” he added.
Ajani worked tirelessly to bring about change in the student community during his time as President of the NSC.
“I was able to implement a programme during April which is youth month. I hosted a symposium along with my executive students – it was the NSC leadership symposium. We took student leaders from the entire island (we had it in two phases) and we took student council executives to one location where we brought in different facilitators to speak on various issues that would help students to enhance their abilities,” he said adding that there were sessions on public speaking and group dynamics as well.
He continued: “During my presidency we also had the privilege of electing the Augier Combined School’s primary school student council executive, the firstin Saint Lucia; Fond Assau Primary also has one as well. I’m trying to work with the new president (Joshua Harrow) so that we can get more primary schools on board. I believe the students’ council should start at a primary school level because it enables the students to see what leadership is about.”
The driven teen also played a role in establishing the first ever students council at SALCC, southern division.
Ajani has participated in youth parliament, played an integral role in establishing the first ever Commonwealth Students Association which was established last year; he also works with the Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network (CYPAN).