Brielle Diaz Withers of Cornwall, NY, received the highest accolade for youths (ages 9 to 25) in humanitarian and social action for her ongoing years of contributions to the ‘Be A Friend Project.’ The non-profit is an organization of “Upstanders” working to bring hope back to victims of bullying and build kinder communities using empathy, education and peer support.
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 Duke of Cambridge and The Duke of Sussex. In the 2022 Virtual Diana Award Ceremony on Friday, July 1st, Harry, The Duke of Sussex, honored the young change-makers: "All of you have helped keep her voice alive by showing the world how each small action counts, how kindness is still valued, and how our world can be better if we choose to make it so.”
Brielle became passionate about the mission in 2017 after being cast in the anti-bullying, middle school show, “IT’S EASY! The Friend Strong Musical” in New York. Having experienced bullying herself, the show taught Brielle that everyone has the power to be part of the solution to end bullying: “I want to give young children a voice because so many feel so alone due to bullying. Especially in the world we live in today, I want to demonstrate that there is hope.”
The Be a Friend Project (BAFP) was developed in 2015 by ‘theater kids’ to carry off-stage the “speak up, reach out and be a friend” message of “IT’S EASY!”. It is the show’s Co-Playwright and BAFP Executive Director, Jennifer Young, who nominated Brielle. Diana Award nominators must demonstrate the nominee’s impact in five key areas: Vision, Social Impact, Inspiring Others, Youth Leadership, and Service Journey. Nominations are then rated by Diana Award judges to measure quality of youth social action.
In 2018, Brielle initiated her volunteer role as "On-Air Teen Ambassador/Vlogger" for the BAFP to make it easier for K-12 educators to introduce monthly ‘Friend Mail Recipients’ (victims of severe bullying) to their students for sending peer support. Brielle’s monthly Youtubes continue to the present as a vital educator’s tool and grow the reach of the anti-bullying mission. Brielle recruited her Cornwall Central School District to be the first ever to participate district-wide in the BAFP’s Friend Mail program, designed and led schoolwide elementary assemblies on kindness and the anti-bullying mission, and holds letter-writing events. Brielle is a founding member of the ‘BAFP Teen Kindness-In-Action Board’ sharing her passion and experience with like-minded teens on a global platform though webinars to students ready to make a difference.
Highlight reel and behind-the-scenes from Brielle's home!
Click the picture below to read the 2022 Roll of Honor!