Kartik Sawhney is one of the Queen’s Young Leaders Award winners of 2016. Kartik is passionate about universal access to education. Although he was born blind, Kartik excelled in science and technology at school. However, he discovered that blind students were prevented from pursuing science after grade 10.

Kartik founded Project STEMAccess, which offers hands-on science workshops in India, as well as virtual training sessions. Here Kartik shares his thoughts on Project STEMAccess, and his hopes for similar young people in India

Kartik Sawhney is one of the Queen’s Young Leaders Award winners of 2016

In his own words: Kartik Sawhney, Queen's Young Leader 2016

As I was growing up I faced a number of challenges. Being born blind meant that gaining an education, particularly in the field of science and technology, was not always easy. However I was determined to pursue the subjects I was passionate about, and my perseverance paid off in 2013 when I was offered a scholarship at Stanford University in the USA.

I am now keen to offer other young people in India the opportunity to learn more about science and technology. I am the founder of Project STEMAccess, which offers hands-on science workshops in India, as well as virtual training sessions. I am also working on creating a portal that will allow students to convert textbooks into their desired accessible format.

I am very hopeful about the future of India, and envision it to be a perfect amalgamation of technological innovation and our traditional values

It was as a result of my work on these projects that I was selected to be one of the Queen’s Young Leader Award winners of 2016. The Award, which will be presented to us by Her Majesty The Queen at a ceremony in the UK, recognises young people from across the Commonwealth who are carrying out life-changing work in their communities.

I believe that young people are optimistic and full of energy, and look at everything with a fresh perspective. This allows us to pursue initiatives that might otherwise be thought of as daunting or impossible. Not only do we have the best understanding of the problems that we face, but we are also in the best position to work out solutions using our creativity and drive.

I am very hopeful about the future of India, and envision it to be a perfect amalgamation of technological innovation and our traditional values, such as compassion, generosity, respect and pride in our heritage.

The Queen’s Young Leader Award recognises and celebrates exceptional people aged 18-29 from across the Commonwealth, who are taking the lead in their communities and using their skills to transform lives. Winners of this prestigious Award will receive a unique package of training, mentoring and networking, including a one-week residential programme in the UK during which they will collect their Award from Her Majesty The Queen. Find out more on The Queen's Young Leaders' website.​