Making every moment count: The inspiring story of Simran Vedvyas

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A dream to learn, achieve, and succeed
A spirit, endurance and will to excel

At just 17, Dubai-born Simran Vedvyas is already proving to be a role model for thousands of young people as a passionate environmentalist and social campaigner.

As the founder of the SynergY youth group, which works to promote sustainability, she engages with students across the UAE and India on topics like the environment, education and healthcare.

Simran, who has led over 70 successful youth engagement campaigns – including one which saw 3,000 trees planted at landfill sites across the UAE – has been recognised at home and abroad for her academic and humanitarian achievements.

Her Belief that ‘Youth are the Future Champions Today!’ was featured by MTV voices on International Youth Day 2013, for 100 hours at Times Square, NY, USA.

She is also the youngest panellist at United Nations Headquarters discussing ‘Youth Migration the Development Forward’, the theme of the International Youth day 2013.

Simran has shared her work with the Johns Hopkins Centre for Talented Youth USA and TIE- The International Educator USA, Brain Feed, Portraits of Sustainable Youth Leaders and was featured in United Nations Youth Flash several times.

She continues to make compelling presentations as a speaker and panellist travelling to over 30 countries, attending global events, including those hosted by the United Nations. Simran is closely working with UNEP, UNESCO, UNDP, ILO and their youth programs.

Her story

Simran Vedvyas has reached out, influenced and benefitted thousands to serve humanity and environment beyond boundaries.
An Indian by origin, she finds herself continuously self-motivated to ‘dreaming large and achieving big’. During her early life years, she has excelled by strong communication and leadership skills in challenging youth to adopt a more sustainable and peaceful lifestyle.

Her pledge on Earth Day highlights the importance to protect our rich biodiversity by active management strategies.

As a responsible global citizen, since participating as youth ambassador Eye on Earth, UNEP at Rio + 20, advocating taking simple steps, leading to plant over 3000 trees by children and youth in UAE and conducting many workshops and active environment conferences engaging school and universities students, partnering with KHDA What Works event at several occasions, further supporting DEWA and Dubai Municipality initiatives locally and Earth Charter International, TUNZA Eco Generation, Chime In, Children of the Earth, Climate Reality, Plant-for the Planet and several global organizations closely she has demonstrated her leadership and communication effectively.

Her multi-faceted personality finds expression through active participation in community development programs, charitable events and leadership through her founded group SynergY and she finds happiness in directing many youngsters to follow best practices by finding and believing in their talents.

How did it all start? What inspired you to take up this cause?

My interest in the environment began when I was seven. My grandfather had a farm back home in India… standing outdoors always gave me a sense of calm and tranquility. I started recycling paper, cans and other materials at home.

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I started visiting the Missionaries of Charity Leprosy Centre and dying destitute center in India regularly each year, since a tender age of seven and spent my time, savings and brought smiles to many faces supporting children in need.

I have also led distributing food items through ‘Convoy to Feed’ to over two thousand labors over the past few years and I never fall short on supporting causes of education, reducing poverty, health, environment, sustainability and gender equality rights through various global platforms.”

You are just seventeen and have already achieved so much. What are some of the accomplishments that make you the most proud?

When I was 12, I campaigned and collected more than 3,000 pairs of shoes that were distributed in Kenya and Uganda through US aided AMPATH, to the diabetic patients in Africa & the Middle East. Afte, I was chosen to carry the Olympic Flame at the London Olympics in 2012, I moved forward with my social and environmental work and never looked back.

Among many global recognitions for my contribution to the environment, conservation and sustainability, I am honored with the:

  • The legendary John Muir Youth Environmental Conservation Award USA
  • The admired Diana International Award UK,
  • The esteemed ‘Puruskar’ National level India, Award being Paryavaranmitra Leader for change, shortlisted as Best Student,
  • International Eco Hero award USA,
  • First prize at Global Youth for Environment Forum by Samsung Engineering and Korea Green Foundation

As a student I made a rare hat trick of bagging both National Academic awards by the Rulers of UAE, making to a score of Six Distinction Awards in consecutive years including:

  • Winning thrice HH Shaikh Hamdan Award for Distinguished Student and
  • Winning thrice HH Shaikh Qassimi’s Sharjah Educational Award for Educational Excellence

For my humanitarian commitment:

  • I have been conferred with Splash ‘Heart of Gold’
  • I am also the youngest winner for the Emirates Women of the year 2015 – Young Achiever.
  • Young Achiever Award 2015, for Young Brilliance on All India Level recipient.
  • GESS Education Award 2016 Community Award for Citizenship

How was the experience of carrying Olympic Flame during the London 2012 Olympic Games?

I am the youngest torchbearer, one of the six chosen from UAE, and nine from the entire Middle East Region. I carried the Olympic Games Torch at Hinderwell UK on 18th June 2012, amidst thousands of residents including young, old, toddlers and elders, cheering me all along as I passed the streets of United Kingdom.

There were special convoys and caravans with security to manage the show and support the enthusiasm of the masses as I moved along, I cannot forget that rush of adrenalin and truly it was my ‘Moment to Shine’.

Your project – ‘SynergY’ – is addressing a number of global issues. Which of these needs immediate worldwide action?

SynergY, is a group of young students from various institutions across United Arab Emirates who have been working with the sole purpose to support various environment trepidations and societal uplift addressing focal areas relating to health, environment, education and welfare.

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As we pledged, we have successfully contributed our best by advocating that everyone must adopt an Eco-lifestyle.

“We are living on this planet as if we had another one to go to” – Terri Swearingen

The Global Goals are addressing many of the global issues that need attention and in my opinion our focus towards worldwide action will most definitely contribute to health, education and sustainability.

As the founder of Synergy I have always heightened that the challenge today is to adopt more sustainable lifestyles, and each one of us has a responsibility to live peacefully without jeopardizing the natural resources.

I stress that we need to act now by convening, converging and collaborating. In the end, we will conserve only what we love, we will love only what we understand, we will understand only what we are taught or what we experience. SynergY emerged as a noble initiative with the thought that the power of many units working together is more than the power of one unit, and the units in this case are ‘youth’.

I am confident that SynergY members and their stories shared will always inspire and motivate more students and help to direct themselves’ to gain a more sustainable society.

How do you motivate youngsters to be part of your sustainability journey?

I ensure to communicate and transpire my thoughts positively to others. I make an attempt to lead by example accepting others viewpoints, holding positive discussions and making valuable decisions to progress with my maturity being one of the exceptional qualities that abets to bring together people working for a common goal to benefit the society.

I motivate youngsters with my belief that an achievement award is not the end goal, but rather a symbolic confirmation of the potential future success.

SynergY’ works with a group of students from UAE and India. Where do you envision ’SynergY’ going forward?

Collectivism is key to a successful future. I am founder and chairperson of a non-governmental organization called SynergY, where hundreds of children and youth in join hands in activities of National and Global importance.

SynergY promotes events ranging from health and safety to environment and green economy. People look up to leaders for inspiration and leaders look up to others for creativity and inspiration.

A good leader has the ability to synergize beliefs, strengths and virtues having the ability to change the world around them and yet gracefully be part of that changing momentum. I feel that SynergY has a sound leadership and the members will branch out to many countries and institutions carrying the core values and further influencing others.

Moving forward, SynergY is a collective web where the energy will grow, transform and reach out to various stakeholders.

[dropcap style=”square”]N[/dropcap]What helped you achieve this success? 

My success is attributed to the constant support I have received from my school, The Universal American School in Dubai and my parents who always attend to each and every need of mine.

They have pursued my ambitions with me while guiding me in the right direction. My school and parents have not just brought me to this point successfully, they’ve also prepared me to take on new projects and steps in the future.

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What message do you have for the youth?

Focus on your strengths and strengthen your weaknesses. When you look back, you should be proud of everything you have done and regret nothing you have done.

Find your passion and integrate it into whatever it is you plan to do. Lastly, ALWAYS ask for help and guidance from anybody and everybody and ALWAYS give help to others.

How challenging is it to manage your social activities along with studies?

As a student I have a positive approach and follow a routine that allows me to do what I enjoy each day in addition to educating myself towards my future ambitions and goals, the spirit of achievement and purpose is instilled in my mind and heart giving me my daily dose of happiness. The key is definitely balance.”

What inspires you?

Born and brought up in Dubai and I’ve seen this city progress throughout the last seventeen years. The aesthetics behind the traditional yet modern city that Dubai has become, has always been an inspiration for my work and for whatever I take on everyday.

The city has kept its traditional Arabic roots firm but at the same time branched out to become a cosmopolitan blend. Dubai has taken the world by storm and that’s my inspiration, to dream big and achieve bigger.

Where do you see yourself 20 years from now?

As youth speaker at the First Hindu Conference in India 2014, I had the opportunity to shake hands with His Holiness Dalai Lama and since then instilled the self belief of ‘sameness of all’, as the way forward for a just, peaceful and sustainable world’.

It’s a real test for our generation because we are less aware of what to expect and demand in life, and this is creating a divide between what is available in reality and what we are hoping for.

We all have the ability; the difference is how we use it. As simple as it sounds, we all must try to be the best in whatever we do, by making the sensible choices, being humble, polite and modest. I am the change, a mover for youth change, is part of my Identity and I aspire to carry that forward.

In 20 years from now, I see myself fulfilling the thought that each minute of our life matters, which stirs my passion towards studying medicine and be the magician that cures a parent in the eyes of their child. I hope to be the person I envisioned myself always.”

What defines success for you?
Success for me lies in the belief that at the end of the day my actions have had a positive effect on at least one person in the world.


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