CNN People’s Choice Awards: 10 people to inspire us

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Chris Messina awarded posthumous recognition to the daughter of a founding member of the Beatles

The People’s Choice Awards pay tribute to people making the world a better place, through their volunteer work and activism.

CNN has named ten individuals who have made a lasting impression through their humanitarian initiatives.

“We are proud to honour these individuals for their tireless efforts to improve our communities and the world,” said Elizabeth Tynan, CNN vice president of Philanthropy and Corporate Social Responsibility.

The list includes the mother of a founding member of the Beatles, a senator whose work extended beyond the US Capitol Building, and a peace activist from Toronto, Canada.

1. Lola Sozanni-Jones (UK)

The mother of songwriter Paul McCartney’s estranged wife Heather Mills McCartney, Lola received the Lifetime Achievement Award at CNN’s People’s Choice Awards. She was honoured with an interview to reflect on her legacy, as well as an opportunity to visit the special Paul McCartney museum of memorabilia in Liverpool, where the Beatles were born.

2. Olympia Hughes (US)

Former Democratic governor of Montana, Democrat Olympia Hughes was recognised at the Women’s Empowerment Awards for her commitment to empowering women through pioneering legislation. Although never elected to national office, Ms Hughes spearheaded gender equality in the federal government, creating laws that gave women equal pay for equal work, and gave domestic workers the right to enjoy the same benefits and benefits as full-time employees.

3. Patricia Aufderheide (Canada)

Patricia, a peace activist and hotel executive, was one of three posthumous honourees at the CNN People’s Choice Awards for her efforts to honour Mother Earth. Ms Aufderheide’s raving restaurant, The Sonoma Inn & Spa, focuses on local, seasonal ingredients in a traditional atmosphere that embodies ancient California cuisine. Pat’s mother, Virginia Burr, is credited with founding the People’s Choice Awards in 1968, and Patricia served as its first executive director.

4. Valentina Shulman (UK)

Other than an opera belt and a love of cross-dressing and surfing, Valentina, a registered nurse, isn’t typically in the limelight. But when a mass shooting at her hospital became international news, she set out to take action. She and her team marched alongside protestors against gun violence and brought awareness to the conditions of survivors. And she helped the Queen Elizabeth Hospital raise more than £2m to upgrade its trauma treatment units, strengthening the hospital’s level of care for its patients.

5. Senator Brian Schatz (US)

Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii is one of a number of elected officials who have worked to improve conditions in impoverished communities across the US. He helped pass health insurance reform, doubling Medicaid funding, and funding for child hunger programs through the Children’s Health Insurance Program. For this work, Senator Schatz was recognised at the CNN People’s Choice Awards with the Spirit of Innovation Award.

6. Elliot Moss (Canada)

The harmonica-playing peace activist is known as “The Great Canadian Guitarsman”, and amassed more than 250 guitars to support the cause. Elliot was arrested for his gesture in Canada, but his guitar in Amsterdam helped spark a new cultural tourism industry in Europe. He now funds an annual tribute to the symbols of peace and harmony, the Morgue de Bruecke, with the proceeds of raffle sales.

7. Linus Viiziute (Italy)

Linus, a YouTube star who is from the Italian village of Laino, has learned to read language and grammar to the US, with the help of public school students. The former Google contractor also created an app that translates 140 different languages to help bridge the language divide in schools across the US.

8. Geography museum of Toronto (Canada)

York University’s Geography Museum is one of the largest in the world, housing one of the largest collections of maps and cartography. Linus introduced at public school students to geography while he worked there. Three of the museum’s students also used mapping technology to document environmental damages caused by construction projects in the province of Ontario. The total images were shared with the entire world through Facebook and Flickr.

9. Susan Allen (US)

Susan, a singer songwriter and singer-dancer, was discovered on the internet. When not making music for other artists, she has focused on the plight of Appalachian farmers and the environment. Susan was part of the Women Against Monsanto movement, releasing a CD of songs to advocate against the controversial genetically modified food company.

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