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‘More Leons needed’: meet our Citizen of Year

Eco Voice
Eco Voice
First published in 2003, Eco Voice is your go-to publication for sustainability news in Australia. Eco Voice prides itself as an independent news platform with a clear focus on sustainability, with articles coming from a diverse range of contributors – all levels of government, corporations, not-for-profits, community groups, small to medium sized businesses, universities, research organisations, together with input from international sources. Eco Voice values community, conservation and commerce. Eco Voice is a media partner of the prestigious Australian Banksia Sustainability Awards – The Peak Sustainability Awards.

A former elite athlete and natural bodybuilder turned mental health advocate has been named Citizen of the Year in the Sunshine Coast Biosphere Community Awards.

Leon Stensholm received the honour for his dedication to helping, mentoring, and supporting young people on the Sunshine Coast through his youth centre, Lookout 07.

His vision to create the centre emerged from his own deeply personal journey – the tragic loss of his brother and four clients to suicide.

Leon recognised disconnection and isolation from friends and family as the common denominator in their stories and knew something had to change.

He embarked on a mission to create a safe, welcoming, all-inclusive space for young kids, where meaningful connections support their path to physical, mental and social wellbeing.

His dream came to fruition in 2023 when he opened Lookout 07, which provides recreation facilities alongside resilience programs, mentoring and crisis counselling for around 150 youths each week.

The judges, who had the challenging task of selecting the 2024 recipients, applauded Leon for using his professional experiences to help so many young people each week, and for his generosity of space, time and skill.

They summed it up in four words, ‘We need more Leons!’.

The ceremony was held on June 13, on the second anniversary of UNESCO’s designation of the Sunshine Coast as a Biosphere Reserve. The awards recognised, celebrated and showcased the stories of 79 dedicated individuals, organisations and businesses contributing to a sustainable region now, and into the future.

Sunshine Coast Mayor Rosanna Natoli said the collective impact all the nominees had on region was humbling.

“The information we receive about the nominees shares just a fraction of the inspiring stories behind them,” Mayor Natoli said.

“Today we recognised our volunteers, heard stories of support for those less fortunate, celebrated triumph out of adversity and were inspired by dedicated visions and unique solutions.

“We celebrated those protecting and enhancing our natural environment, contributing to the health and wellbeing of our community, people dedicating themselves and their organisations to our cultural vitality and those embedding sustainability into the core of their businesses.

“Each of our fabulous nominees should feel a sense of pride to be recognised by their community and we celebrate and are thankful for every one of them.

“These stories represent what is special about our Sunshine Coast Biosphere and why this is such a wonderful place to live, work, learn and play.”

Our Sunshine Coast Biosphere is a way of life, caring for our environment, creating thriving communities and growing our local economy.

2024 Sunshine Coast Biosphere Community Award Recipients

Category                                                        Recipient name/s

Citizen of the Year                                        Leon Stensholm

Senior Citizen of the Year                            Ken Mewburn

Young Citizen of the Year                            Kurt Jones

Community Group or Organisation            endED

Healthy People                                              Trevor Picken

Biosphere Business of the Year                 Go For Zero

Creative Arts (JOINTLY AWARDED)           Helena Gulash

                                                                        Paul Calcott

Healthy Planet (JOINTLY AWARDED)         Craig Hosmer and Daryl Reinke

                                                                             Hinterland Bush Links

Judging Panel

  • Greg Mews, from University of the Sunshine Coast
  • Jacquie Smith, from TAFE Queensland East Coast
  • Glenn Platt, from Unitywater
  • Corey James, from the Biosphere Community Advisory Group and Bennett & Bennett Group
  • Melva Hobson, from the Biosphere Community Advisory Group and Organisation Sunshine Coast Association of Residents – OSCAR

The Awards are made possible through the assistance of Sunshine Coast Biosphere Community Award sponsors.


  • Citizen of the Year – sponsored by 7 News Sunshine Coast
  • Senior Citizen of the Year – sponsored by Maroochy RSL
  • Young Citizen of the Year – sponsored by 92.7 MixFM
  • Biosphere Business of the Year – sponsored by Unitywater
  • Community Group or Organisation Award – sponsored by Sunshine Coast Daily
  • Creative Arts Award – sponsored by TAFE Queensland East Coast
  • Healthy Planet Award – sponsored by University of the Sunshine Coast
  • Healthy People Award – sponsored by My Weekly Preview


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