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Plan Canada announces Top 20 Under 20 award winners, celebrating achievements and leadership of outstanding youth from across the country

Award recognizes 20 of Canada's brightest young leaders

TORONTO, June 3, 2015 – Today Plan Canada is celebrating 20 of Canada’s most outstanding youth with the Top 20 Under 20 award, recognizing young leaders from across the country who have demonstrated significant levels of innovation, achievement and leadership.

From supporting youth entrepreneurship and designing breakthrough water collection tools to tackling issues such as bullying, mental health stigma and gender inequality, these youth – all under the age of 20 – are leading and inspiring solutions that improve our world.

Plan Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 award, supported by lead funding partner RBC Foundation, celebrates youth as the next generation of leaders who are creating a positive impact as global citizens – reflecting Plan’s vision of a world in which all children realize their full potential in societies that respect people's rights and dignity.

“We are proud to celebrate this year’s Top 20 Under 20 award winners, a group of remarkable young leaders taking ownership of change in their communities and beyond with their voices and talents,” said Rosemary McCarney, President and CEO of Plan Canada. “Plan knows the power and potential youth have and we hope the Top 20 Under 20 award will inspire and encourage other young people to make an impact on the world.”

The recipients of Plan Canada’s 2015 Top 20 Under 20 award were selected by a team of experienced volunteer judges, and were officially recognized at a ceremony at One King West Hotel in Toronto on June 3. Representing communities from coast to coast and ranging in age from 16 to 19, this year’s winners are:

  • Aanikh Kler, 16 (Vancouver, B.C.) – social entrepreneur, app developer and public speaker
  • Aditya Mohan, 17 (Ottawa, Ont.) – researcher and innovator on novel HIV treatment and visual artist
  • Alaina Podmorow, 17 (Lake Country, B.C.) – founder of Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan to raise funds and awareness for girls’ education
  • Anjali Katta, 17 (Vancouver, B.C.) – gender equality advocate and founder of GirlsCo. to foster dialogue on women’s rights
  • Calvin Rieder, 17 (Oakville, Ont.) – scientist and engineer on global freshwater innovations
  • Chuyang Aaron Lin, 17 (Calgary, Alta.) – microbiologist and researcher on molecular genetics and infectious diseases
  • Clement Cheng, 17 (Markham, Ont.) – social justice advocate and founder of ActOut to bring global issues to the classroom
  • Hayley Todesco, 18 (Calgary, Alta.) – scientist and researcher on a broad spectrum of environmental issues such as solar technology and water pollution
  • Lauren Reid, 18 (Uxbridge, Ont.) – scientist and engineer on wind turbine technology and environmental sustainability
  • Mahan Nekoui, 19 (North York, Ont.) – program developer and researcher on the 2014 Ebola outbreak
  • Maike van Niekerk, 19 (Halifax, N.S.) – researcher on cancer treatment and social justice advocate
  • Maxwell Tran, 19 (Mississauga, Ont.) – founder of Ink Movement to showcase youth talent and empower youth through the arts
  • Michael Liu, 17 (Toronto, Ont.) – advocate to combat mental illness stigma and researcher on novel HIV detection
  • Mikaela Preston, 18 (Markham, Ont.) – scientist and researcher on biofuels and STEM curriculum advocate
  • Mohammed Nayem Alam, 18 (Montreal, Que.) – advocate against bullying and founder of Speak Up Montreal to encourage youth self-expression
  • Neal Zuberi Attard, 19 (Thornhill, Ont.) – social justice advocate and peer educator on issues such as racism and gender equality
  • Nivatha Balendra, 19 (Montreal, Que.) – scientist and researcher on environmental solutions for cleaning up oil spills
  • Swarochish Goswami, 17 (Calgary, Alta.) – founder of Canada Thinks to support youth entrepreneurship
  • Vincent Lachance, 18 (Montreal, Que.) – founder of Startup Basecamp Montreal and entrepreneur focused on small business and e-commerce
  • Xi Yuan Cecilia Pang, 16 (Surrey, B.C.) – social justice advocate and accomplished painter and pianist

In addition to being recognized as a Top 20 Under 20 award winner, each of these honourees will receive career coaching courtesy of Right Management. They also all travelled to Toronto for Plan Canada’s Top 20 Under 20 Leadership Summit, which took place from May 31 to June 2, providing them with an opportunity to develop personal and professional skills and lay the foundation for an incredible peer network of young Canadian leaders.

For more information about these outstanding recipients and the Top 20 Under 20 award, please visit:

About Plan Canada and the Because I am a Girl initiative

Founded in 1937, Plan is one of the world’s oldest and largest international development agencies, working in partnership with millions of people around the world to end global poverty. Not for profit, independent and inclusive of all faiths and cultures, Plan has only one agenda: to improve the lives of children. Because I am a Girl is Plan’s global initiative to end gender inequality, promote girls’ rights and lift millions of girls – and everyone around them – out of poverty. Visit and for more information.

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Media contacts

Angie Torres-Ramos, Plan Canada
T: 416-920-1654 ext. 244 |

Abigail Brown, Senior Media and Public Relations Manager, Plan Canada
T: (416) 920-1654 ext. 277 | C: (647) 971-3764 |