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Chelsea Colatriano
  • By Gianluca D'Elia / gdelia@thebct.com / @gianluca_delia

An Edgewater Park native who founded a nonprofit at age 18 has been recognized with an award named for Princess Diana.

EDGEWATER PARK — At 21, Zaniya Lewis has found international acclaim for her work empowering girls and women.

The Edgewater Park native's nonprofit has been recognized with the highest accolade a young person can achieve for social action or humanitarian efforts.

Lewis, a George Washington University student, earned the Diana Award along with her national youth-led team at the YesSheCan Campaign, an organization she started when she was a freshman in college. She now serves as the CEO and executive director.

Established in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, the award is given out by the charity of the same name and has the support of both her sons, the Dukes of Cambridge and Sussex. Winners are announced each year on July 1, Diana's birthday. This year marks the award's 20th anniversary.

"When I found out, I was shocked," said Lewis, a Doane Academy alumna. "It shows that if you have a dream, you can really accomplish it, and use your story to make a difference. It's all about helping people accomplish their dreams."

Award winners are nominated by adults who know the young people in a professional capacity and recognized their efforts as a positive contribution to society. Through a rigorous nomination process, nominees have to prove their effectiveness in five categories: vision, social impact, inspiring others, youth leadership and service journey.

"We congratulate all our new International Diana Award holders who are changemakers for their generation," Tessy Ojo, CEO of The Diana Award, said in a statement about the winners. "We know by receiving this honor they will inspire more young people to get involved in their communities and begin their own journey as active citizens."

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