“It’s wonderful to receive this award, not for myself but to get recognition for all the amazing volunteers at PAY who give so much of themselves to make sure the children get a better start in life. It’s not always easy and we rely on the kindness of so many people and organisations to keep PAY going. So this is a huge thank you to all of them,” says a delighted Ursula Matzopoulos.
Last week, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II recognised Matzopoulos as the 42nd Commonwealth Point of Light in honour of her exceptional service improving the health and educational attainment of young people.
Leading up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, United Kingdom on April 19-20, the Queen – as head of the Commonwealth – is thanking inspirational volunteers across the 53 Commonwealth nations for the difference they are making in their communities and beyond. By sharing these stories of service, the heads of government meeting will celebrate inspirational acts of volunteering across the Commonwealth and help inspire others to make their own contribution to tackling some of the greatest social challenges of our time.
Matzopoulos is a former primary school teacher who is involved in an after-school club in Katutura, Windhoek, called PAY – Physically Active Youth. The club focuses on using educational games to improve the literacy and maths skills of children from disadvantaged backgrounds, whilst also improving their health and fitness through BMX riding, football, swimming and basketball.
Since 2015, Ursula has led the organisation’s extra-curricular tutoring, helping over 150 pupils aged 12-13 to achieve twice the national average pass rate for end of year exams.
She also encourages young people to continue their education, with 80% of children from the programme enrolling in secondary school compared to the national average of 54%.
Each Commonwealth Point of Light receives a personalised certificate signed by Her Majesty The Queen as Head of the Commonwealth. The award for Matzopoulos was presented on March 27 at the PAY centre by Kate Airey, UK High Commissioner in Namibia.