A surreal sequence of events unfolded this month for Youtuber Hussain Manawer when he found himself named a finalist for One Young World’s 2015 ‘Global Rising Star’ competition. Two weeks later, he gave a keynote speech on mental health issues for young people in front of a panel of UN goodwill ambassadors, before winning first prize… Which happened to be a trip into outer space with XCOR Space Expeditions, 103 kilometers above the Earth’s atmosphere.
Manawer, who has 10,000 followers on his Youtube channel Hussains House, is known for his comedy videos and social experiments.
Back in July, he saw an advert for the One Young World’s annual global search for the most promising future young leader. Finalists are chosen from a selection of young people who have given creative and thought provoking solutions for the world’s societal issues. This year, the finalists included Keren Jackson, who runs a diversity social enterprise in Dublin, Ireland; Freeman Osonuga who campaigns for poverty alleviation in Nigeria, and Manawer, who speaks out about mental health issues affecting young people in the UK.
Recently, Manawer has been speaking in schools about issues such as cyber bullying, anxiety and depression – which affects up to a quarter of all young people in the UK- but is very rarely brought out into the open.
“When I entered the competition, I thought nothing would come of it,” he said in an interview with UK’s ITV News this month.
“My mum was really shocked with the news – she didn’t even want me to move out to go to university, let alone want me to venture out into space!”
The entry was a video, in which he made an open plea that we should encourage young people to talk about their experiences of self harm, self doubt and society’s pressures.
Speaking on Youtube, Manawer says: “Mental health matters, we really need to start talking about it more. Whatever it is that you are going through, there are others that are going through the same thing as you. Keeping a mental state of mind can be extremely difficult, and therefore it really is not ok to not be ok. We need to work together as humans, friends, families, neighbours, to find therapeutic treatments and cures to help aid us through difficult times and NOT tell people ‘shrug it off’.”
One Young World is made up of a network of 6,000 young leaders running impactful projects around issues such as children in poverty, health concerns, child trafficking and homelessness. It is headed by a line-up of Counsellors that include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Sir Bob Geldof, Kofi Annan, Sir Richard Branson and Arianna Huffington. This year, the competition was held in partnership with XCOR Space Expeditions, who will fly Manawer into space on one of its first private space flights.
Before travelling on the XCOR flight, passengers must complete one year of mission training, zero gravity travel and G- centrifuge training. Manawer’s flight is scheduled for 2017.