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3 January, 2008

Youth Act campaigner wins Beacon Prize for anti-bullying work

In November Zakwan Chowdhury was awarded a prestigious Beacon Prize in recognition of his pioneering work to stop bullying and to raise awareness about the issue.

Zak was one of only thirteen Beacon prize winners, all of whom were chosen for their exceptional philanthropic contribution through the giving of their time, money and skills in order to benefit specific charitable causes.

He has joined the ranks of previous Beacon winners such as Sir Bob Geldof, Jamie Oliver and environmentalist, Zac Goldsmith who have all been recognised for their charitable work through what has become known as the 'Nobel Prize of the charity world', first coined by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Zak began his campaigning work with the Citizenship Foundation's Youth Act campaigning project in 2003, helping to set up and lead ABM (Anti-Bullying Massif), and has gone on to become a director of the national iPoweri campaign.

Zak and his friends at the ABM transformed the culture, procedures and attitudes towards bullying at their school and many others throughout London and the rest of the UK.

Through the weekly counselling sessions, referral procedures and anti-bullying work with teachers and pupils alike, the ABM brought the issue of bullying and the need to confront it into the open, offering positive and effective solutions to the problem. Once ABM was set up, the rates of reported bullying in his school went down and those who were bullied had a new valuable source of advice and support from sympathetic peers.

Zak went on to become the Young Management Director of IPowerI, a non-profit organisation that finds ways to promote peace, tackle violence, resolve conflict and bullying, and helps with the empowerment of young people. He also organized an international anti-bullying conference attended by delegates from South Korea, Turkey and the USA, and he is also planning a 'world tour' of anti-bullying workshops and presentations for children, covering 26,000 miles from Bristol to Singapore, through 21 countries.

Tony Beslin, Chief Executive of the Citizenship Foundation said:

Zaks achievement is winning a Beacon award is a fantastic bonus for the anti-bullying movement and a tremendous credit to all of those who have worked with him, members of the ABM, and supported his actions including his school, family and of course, Carrie Supple Youth Act UKs founder. We are absolutely thrilled that a young person got involved with the anti-bullying cause through Youth Act. Just as we are proud of Zak, we are proud of all the young people who have been and are going through the Youth Act process, who are all champions of causes and campaigns. They are all brilliant examples of how young people are the solution to so many of the problems that we wrongly place blame on them for..

The Prize Ceremony took place on 22 November in Whitehall. Zak joined 13 winners to be inaugurated as Beacon Fellows, a community of Beacon Prize winners who together champion charitable causes across the globe and nurture a wider culture of giving in the UK.

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