News — August 19, 2016

Announcing the 2016 JCI TOYP Honorees

Through innovative actions, extraordinary achievement and dedication to serving others, the 2016 JCI Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World (JCI TOYP) Honorees create sustainable impact in their communities and across the globe.

Each year, JCI honors ten outstanding young people under the age of 40. These young active citizens exemplify the spirit of the JCI Mission and provide exemplary service to their communities, serving as honorable young active citizens.


JCI members and active citizens from around the world voted online to participate in selecting the 2016 JCI TOYP Honorees. Along with the final judging panel, comprised of representatives of select partner organizations and 2016 JCI President Paschal Dike, the online votes helped determine the winning honorees. After more than 50,000 votes were cast and the judging panel reviewed the top 20 finalists, ten young active citizens were selected to receive this honor for exceptional service, creativity and the positive change they have created in their communities and the world. 


Get to know the 2016 JCI Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World.


Shadi Alalshi

Humanitarian and/or voluntary leadership

Serving as a volunteer for the betterment of his country since 2001, Shadi Alalshi has revolutionized the way that humanitarian work is managed in Syria, leading efforts ranging from providing humanitarian relief to amassing volunteers to aiding prisoner exchanges. As war has progressed throughout the country, Alalshi has expanded his endeavors and the work of his organization to reach the most rural and vulnerable regions affected by war. As a result of innovative thinking, he has reformed the organization into a decentralized structure that hosts hundreds of social initiatives spanning across the country. For Alalshi, humanitarian work is more than his profession, it is his passion and the duty that he lives for. 


Dr. Mehmet Z. Baykara

Scientific and/or technological development 

As a doctoral student, Dr. Mehmet Z. Baykara contributed to the development and application of 3D-AFM. This method allows researchers to view atoms on surfaces while measuring their physical and chemical properties. In turn, these findings are significant and can lead to exciting advances in catalysis and friction, which are both connected to energy. By enhancing understanding and controlling of friction in industrial processes, the results can lead to major energy savings and reduction in the use of fossil fuels. His research on 3D-AFM has motivated researchers to further investigate the frictional properties of materials. By delivering a new tool for nanotechnology researchers, Dr. Baykara has contributed to solutions in energy savings, one of the greatest challenges of the current generation. 


Dr. Canan Dagdeviren 

Medical innovation

Since a young age, Dr. Canan Dagdeviren has been fascinated with science and its ability to provide innovative solutions to real world problems. Dr. Dagdeviren’s core research is about the application of electronic devices on the human body, especially focused on multifunctioning sensing capabilities. Her invention, a piezoelectric mechanical energy harvester (PZT MEH) converts mechanical energy from natural organ movements into electrical energy necessary to power cardiovascular devices. By providing a continuous source of energy, this technology could extend the battery life of implanted medical devices or even completely eliminate the need for battery replacement altogether. As a result, patients no longer need to undergo repeated operations in order to replace devices, thus reducing the risk of surgical complications and increasing quality of life. With her initiative, creativity and leadership, Dr. Dagdeviren bridges the gap between cutting-edge neuroscience research and advance electronic devices.


Prof. Abelardo Apollo I. David, Jr.

Humanitarian and/or voluntary leadership

Admired for his ability to translate theories and principles into action, Professor Abelardo Apollo David, Jr. has demonstrated his strong commitment to providing disabled youth with the most optimal treatment available in a socially inclusive environment. At the age of 26, David pioneered the Independent Living Learning Centre, one of the largest private schools for children with special needs in the Philippines; this school helps students to transition into the job force. Knowing that the majority of disabled Filipino children come from poor families, he established the Rehabilitation and Empowerment of Adults and Children with Handicap Foundation (REACH). In addition, David helped launch TheraFREE, a national volunteer program that sends therapists to remote communities to perform free services. Recognized as both a visionary and as an authority in the field, David’s programs have provided disabled children with free medicine, therapy, education, thus improving their quality of life. 


Felix Finkbeiner 

Moral and/or environmental leadership

At only nine years old, Felix Finkbeiner initiated a worldwide tree planting movement among children and youth called “Plant-for-the-Planet.” The initiative started with a goal of planting 1 million trees in Germany to reduce carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions; the millionth tree was planted just three years later. The following year, he was invited to speak at the General Assembly of the United Nations for the opening of the International Year of Forest. In his address, Finkbeiner stressed the importance of tree planting and called for students, governments and companies around the world to join efforts and plant a total of 1 trillion trees. Though a challenging goal, Finkbeiner’s movement of young environmentally-minded youth has already planted 14 billion trees and has received signatures from 985 billionaires pledging to plant 1 billion trees each. Finkbeiner’s campaign invites young active citizens to unite under a common goal and take direct action to solve one of the most pressing problems our generation faces. 


Robert Gillies 

Humanitarian and/or voluntary leadership

After witnessing the complexity of homelessness, Gillies co-founded the ‘HoMie Street Store’ to address local poverty in Melbourne. HoMie is a street-wear clothing store that clothes, trains and employs individuals experiencing homelessness, with the mission to provide a pathway out of homelessness. To further this impact, HoMie also runs the ‘Homeless of Melbourne’ online advocacy program, which promotes a positive social movement for change by de-stigmatizing and humanizing homelessness. Gillies is also the Co-Founder of Dream Larger, a charity that works to disrupt the cycle of poverty in low-income countries through the encouragement of strong indigenous leadership, and Charity Tap, which is enabling hospitality businesses in Melbourne to raise money effortlessly for poverty-relief projects. Through his humanitarian work and voluntary leadership, Gillies is creating a more inclusive community, reducing social prejudice, empowering the homeless to re-integrate into the workplace and helping battle global homelessness through targeted and creative solutions. 


Ciara Judge 

Scientific and/or technological development
Recognized by Time magazine and Huffington Post as one of the top 25 most influential teens in the world, Ciara Judge has been interested in biology and technology since a young age and encourages youth and women to become more involved in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Judge has attracted international recognition for her achievements as a young scientist. At MIT Launch, a program for young entrepreneurs, Judge innovated the idea for PurchaseMate, an app that encourages socially aware purchasing by sharing corporate ethical information with shoppers by easily scanning a product’s barcode. Later, she and a group of peers launched Project Zilkr, which later merged with the United Nation’s The Youth Corp, to encourage young people to become entrepreneurs. Judge’s dedication to improving the world shines through her innovative projects and achievements.


Huda Kaakeh 

Contribution to children, world peace, and/or human rights

Huda Kaakeh has worked with Syrian children and families in rural areas, internally displaced individuals, women and adolescents through her work as a volunteer, teacher and manager with a goal to help these individuals feel a sense of safety and human dignity. At the beginning of the civil war in Syria, a mere 3% of children were attending school. To address this challenge, Kaakeh visited families of rural communities to persuade parents to send their children to school. In addition, Kaakeh worked with multiple social initiatives and non-governmental organizations to form groups of volunteers and support internally displaced individuals by providing much-needed access to food, housing and education. Through all of her work, her ultimate goal is to provide a safe place for children in the midst of war.


Sinqobile Sichelesile Ndlovu

Personal improvement and/or accomplishment

In 2013, Sinqobile Sichelesile Ndlovu helped mobilize the private sector in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe to install waste bins in the streets to combat littering. Faced with disappointing results, she aspired to devise a more sustainable solution for communities to combat the waste management dilemma. The Recycling Middleman was a self-funded pilot project that engaged a youth-led community organization to improve waste collection and recycling. The project connected waste harvesters who collect recyclable waste and recycling agents who purchase the waste. Through the pilot project, Ndlovu realized that a major flaw in the current system stemmed from the harsh working conditions of the harvesters and their lack of access to social services. This injustice has motivated Ndlovu to research how waste collection and recycling systems can harness social innovation and inclusiveness to benefit all stakeholders. Ndlovu’s experiences emphasize the importance of collaboration between all sectors of society in their efforts to improve the living conditions in Zimbabwe.


Jean Pier Xavier de Liz 

Political, legal, and/or governmental affairs

Whether through professional practice, politics or dedicating his time to social and humanitarian causes, Jean Pier Xavier de Liz has utilized his leadership role and the principles of JCI to impact lives, promote positive change and shape innovative national programs to create a better society. Today, he holds office as the Vice Mayor of Rio do Sul, Brazil. In his first year as vice mayor, he created the program “My Neighborhood, My Home,” which is inspired by the JCI Active Citizen Framework. Throughout his term, Liz has created and led several initiatives to advance sustainable development including the Sustainable Cities Program, the Internal Commission for Combating Corruption, and the “Better Young, Better Society” program, which develops leadership skills, ethical values and active citizenship among local youth. Liz’s role in government has provided him with the opportunity to promote and take action to create sustainable development, combat corruption and empower young people in Brazil.


Congratulate the 10 TOYP Honorees at the 2016 JCI Awards Ceremony featuring the 2016 JCI TOYP Honorees at the JCI World Congress in Québec City, Canada on Thursday, November 3. 


Be sure to also attend the JCI TOYP Honoree Workshop: Collaborating for Impact on Thursday, November 3 to meet the honorees face-to-face. Just like all JCI members, the JCI TOYP Honorees take action in their communities, creating sustainable solutions for a better world. In this workshop, Congress delegates will have the opportunity to meet, work and share ideas with these ten inspirational individuals. To solve the greatest challenges of our time, collaboration amongst young active citizens is key. Don’t miss this exciting program and return home to your fellow members with fresh ideas and solutions for taking impactful action, just like these Honorees. 


Discover more about each JCI TOYP Honoree in their official press releases. 


Learn more about World Congress in Québec City, Canada and register today!

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