Future Leaders of the Year 2022 spotlight: Peony Sham

Peony Sham, China

We’re delighted to introduce Future Leader of the Year Peony Sham. Peony is a 15-year-old student from China who is focused on empowering youth and leading community wellbeing projects. She has some game-changing ideas to encourage social interaction and tackle mental health issues. Peony spoke to us about her reasons for getting involved in the competition and the difference it’s made to her… 

Why did you enter The Future Leaders Project?

I came across this opportunity through the Hello World app. I was immediately drawn to the name ‘Future Leaders of the Year’, and after reading through the short description, I was greatly impressed by the competition. I thought that the aim of was very ambitious, to find passionate, accountable, courageous and visionary 15-18-year-olds. I was also interested in the idea that leaders come in all sorts of shapes and sizes – subject leaders, self-leaders, and leaders of others – I had never thought of it that way before! I knew this opportunity was certainly precious and did not want to miss it!  

What did you get from it?

I learned so much from The Future Leaders Project! Firstly, the application process itself was a great learning journey. It gave me an opportunity to self-reflect on my past experience and to ask myself some really soul-searching questions. Furthermore, the resources that we were generously provided in the resource portal really helped to widen my horizons. I really enjoyed the ‘3 secrets to success’ and the ‘Polishing your pitch’ events.  I learnt so much about being in my element, taking ownership, being a courageous learner as well as the skills needed for a successful pitch. The global finals were a great learning experience as well! The workshops delivered by Elke Edwards were so informative and we learnt even more about pitching skills as well as how to give feedback in an effective way. Last but not least, it was great to meet so many amazing youth leaders and to learn from their leadership stories.

Why is this learning important?

I think that all the skills that I have learnt – such as pitching and giving feedback – gained through the various events and pitches have allowed me to become a better leader, supporting me to make a bigger impact on my community. Furthermore, I’ve been able to connect with so many youth leaders all over the world. 

What’s next for you?

I am passionate about wellbeing and I recently founded a youth-led initiative called  ‘We Want Wellbeing’ which aims to spread the awareness of the importance of wellbeing and to promote the practice of wellbeing to a global community. I have made use of social media, including Instagram, Twitter and Facebook @wewantwellbeing to advance my cause.  I would greatly appreciate it if anyone could follow @wewantwellbeing on their preferred social media platform and lend their support to this movement.  

I am now in the process of developing a website https://wewantwellbeing.wixsite.com/main. This website includes various wellbeing articles which serve to educate.  There will also be sharing of some funny, inspiring or interesting videos that hopefully can help boost the reader’s wellbeing. The practice of wellbeing is a lifelong journey, and through the website, I hope to build an online community, that can support each other in the journey to our wellbeing. To ensure cyber safety on the website, I have created a ‘Member’s Area’ where only registered members can access the community. 

My next move will be to organise some online or offline wellbeing activities that serve to educate and to offer peer support.   

If you’re interested in wellbeing, please do not hesitate to get in touch with me! Please visit the website or contact me @wewantwellbeing on Instagram. 

Tell us more about the impact this will have on your community?

In this day and age, while our society has made significant developments in technology and wealth, wellbeing issues are becoming a growing concern. Depression is one of the most significant public health problems facing the world in the 21st Century, and according to the World Health Organisation, depression is now the leading cause of disability worldwide.   

Now more than ever, the enhancement of wellbeing is needed to see us through the crisis brought on by COVID-19.  Indeed, more and more countries are looking to wellbeing initiatives to support their people and its nation to recover from the damage due to COVID-19.  For example, the United Arabs Emirates has adopted the National Strategy for Wellbeing 2031. 

According to research, the promotion of wellbeing should start as early in life as possible. Poor wellbeing contributes to a lot of physical, mental and social problems in young people, such as depression, eating disorders, addiction, self-harm, and suicide. 

I hope that my efforts to spread awareness of wellbeing, including to the youth, could have a positive impact on my community. 

If you want to know more about the Future Leaders Project, or if you know anyone who can support Peony’s wellbeing plans, please get in touch with rachael@ivyhouse.co.uk.

By Ivy House London
21st February 2022

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