Shreya Zoy, a 13-year-old girl from Kerala, India, has an idea of what peace should mean to the world. She brought that idea to life through a powerful essay earning her the grand prize in the Lions International Peace Essay Contest.
Through her essay, Shreya shares the idea that the world is one family.
“Sometimes it takes the perspective of an incredible young person to help the world realize that we are all connected, and that peace and international understanding can exist if we take the time to listen,” said Lions Clubs International President Douglas X. Alexander. “The Peace Essay Contest lifts the voices of incredible young people like Shreya who have powerful ideas of how we can bring about a kinder and more peaceful world.”
Created to give young people with visual impairments an opportunity to express their feelings about peace, the Lions International Peace Essay Contest is a staple of Lions clubs around the world. Lions work with local schools and area families to identify young people interested in participating who could benefit from the program.
“Despite my vision impairment, I want to be a doctor when I grow up,” said Shreya. “For others like me who may have vision impairments, I say don’t focus on the pain, focus on the progress. It may be hard, but it doesn't mean that it is impossible.”
The winning essay, titled “We Are All Connected,” was selected for its originality, organization and portrayal of the contest theme, “We Are All Connected.” The Mannuthy Agri City Lions Club sponsored the local contest that gave the 8th grader the opportunity to participate in this global event and share her words of peace with the world.
“The idea of a Peace Essay Contest is very relevant in the present context where we are all distraught over the disturbances in Europe and other parts of the world at a time when the bridge between the nations is getting narrower every day,” said P V Surendranadh, club president for the Mannuthy Agri City Lions Club. “We are ecstatic to be part of Shreya’s accomplishment, and all of us, including Shreya and her family, are happy about this historic achievement. Her thoughts are inspiring and resonate the world view the young hold for shaping the future.”
Through her essay, Shreya shares the idea that the world is one family. Although we may be from different ethnic groups, follow different cultures or believe in other religions, we are all people deserving of happiness and love. Shreya discusses the COVID-19 pandemic and that out of a significant global crisis, people were able to come together to help one another in times of great need. In conclusion, she explains that we need to remember the lessons we learned from the pandemic and recognize that we are genuinely connected and depend on one another.
“The Peace Essay is important because it may help others realize that humans can survive only collectively,” said Shreya. “We are interconnected and dependent on another’s kindness. The recent pandemic teaches us a lesson that nobody can survive alone.”
Shreya was announced as the grand prize winner at Lions Day with the United Nations in New York City where she delivered her speech via video message. As the grand prize winner, she will receive a US$5,000 cash prize, an award and an invitation to attend an award ceremony. Visit the Lions Clubs International website to read her essay and learn more about the contest.
Shauna Schuda is the senior media relations specialist for Lions Clubs International.
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