Challenging Heights’ Executive Director and Founder is awarded $100,000 for his work in Ghana, from Grinnell College, Iowa.
GRINNELL, IA, 27 JUL 2011– In early May 2011, James Kofi Annan was named on of the winners of the Grinnell College Young Innovator for Social Justice Award. The Grinnell Award received more than 1,000 nominations from 66 different countries. The prize honors individuals under the age of 40 who have demonstrated leadership in their fields and who show creativity, commitment, and extraordinary accomplishment in effecting positive social change. The prize for this award is $100,000, half for the individual and half for their organization, Challenging Heights. James and the other winners will return to Grinnell College in late October to receive their award and speak at a Symposium and awards ceremony. At the Symposium James and the other two winners of the Grinnell College Young Innovator for Social Justice Award will speak to students about their experiences and perspectives in shaping innovative programs that effect positive social change.
James’ story has helped to open the eyes of many. As a survivor of child trafficking, James experienced many years of hard labor and torture. From the age of 6-13, he worked as a child fisherman in fishing villages along Lake Volta. When he finally managed to escape and return to his home, he was incapable of reading or writing. He befriended kindergartners so he could use their schoolbooks in order to teach himself to read. He worked to feed himself and to pay for school. Now, James has a master’s degree and formerly worked as manager for Barclay’s Bank in Ghana. In 2007, he resigned from the position to devote all his efforts to Challenging Heights, using a multi-faceted approach to addressing the root causes of child trafficking by providing education, health, and advocacy programs for formerly enslaved and vulnerable children and their families.