UAE pupils honoured for changing lives at Princess Diana Award ceremony

The prize recognises young people for their humanitarian efforts

Young "change-makers" in the UAE were honoured for their social and humanitarian work at an awards event that celebrated the life of Princess Diana.

Twenty-two people from across the Emirates were among the achievers to receive the Diana Award on Monday.

The award, established in 1999 in memory of the Princess of Wales, shines a light on those who have gone above and beyond to help their communities.

More than 300 people from 46 countries and aged between 9 and 25 were recognised.

The proud winners were congratulated by Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, who told them they represented "a new generation of humanitarianism".

Young winner 'humbled' by award

Raghav Krishna, a 12-year-old pupil at Delhi Private School Sharjah has won The Diana Award for his humanitarian efforts in Dubai on June 28th, 2021. Chris Whiteoak / The National. 
Reporter: Anam Rizvi for News

Raghav Krishna, a 12-year-old Indian pupil at Delhi Private School, Sharjah, won the accolade for his efforts to help educate refugee children and those with special needs.

“I am humbled to receive the Diana Award 2021 and I look forward to being part of the Diana Award alumni network,” said Raghav.

“This will help me hone my skills further and allow me to attend development programmes.

"This recognition comes with lot of responsibility, and I pledge to continue to work towards various humanitarian and social causes."

The Grade 7 pupil and his team created cost-effective and innovative solutions to educate Syrian refugee children and submitted their ideas to the Dubai Cares charity.

“We created strategies to help these children and showed how the children could be made to feel included," said Raghav.

He suggested ways to educate more pupils and ensure Syrian culture was represented in school life.

Dubai Cares gave him a Young Philanthropist Award in 2019 while he also won the Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Distinguished Academic Performance for 2020-2021.

The Diana Award is given to young achievers with a record of distinguished social and humanitarian activities for at least one year.

Nominators must know the candidate in a professional capacity such as a teacher or a youth worker.

Riya's international mission

Riya Sharma, a 12th grader at Gems Modern Academy,  has won The Diana Award for her social and environmental projects in Dubai on June 28th, 2021. Chris Whiteoak / The National. 
Reporter: Anam Rizvi for News

Riya Sharma, a 16-year-old pupil at Gems Modern Academy in Dubai, secured a Diana Award for her social and environmental initiatives.

Riya, a Grade 12 pupil, founded Biology for Better to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics education for underprivileged children around the world.

Her project aimed at helping children who were out of school because of the pandemic.

The pupil enlisted 200 volunteers to conduct online classes for children who were out of school in India and Africa.

The group teaches science, technology and mathematics and creates worksheets and video modules.

Riya is also an environmentalist and encourages pupils to collect and recycle e-waste.

"My parents instilled the love for the environment in me," said Riya.

“They have been taking me on clean up drives since I was child.

“Last year, during the lockdown, I attended a model United Nations conference and found that millions of children were out of school. I really wanted to do something.

“I am overjoyed at receiving the award.

“Getting an award in the name of Princess Diana means a lot as it motivates me.”

Riya was hopeful that being part of the network of Diana Award recipients would help her develop her project further.

Joy for Dubai pupils

Five other pupils at Gems schools received a Diana Award this year.

Hamad Baig, of Grade 5, Gaurav Jayaprakash, of Grade 7 and Shubhankar Ghosh, of Grade 12 at Our Own English High School, Sharjah, were among the winners.

Leena Ansari and Archie Parekh from The Millennium School Dubai also received the award.

The Diana Award, a registered charity in the UK, is supported by the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex.

“We warmly congratulate our new Diana Award recipients from the UK and across the world who are changemakers for their generation," Tessy Ojo, chief executive of The Diana Award, said.

"It is especially poignant as we mark what would have been Princess Diana's 60th birthday.

"In a year that has seen young people's lives disrupted by the pandemic it is even more important that we honour, celebrate but also invest in young people, from across the world, who through their selfless trailblazing efforts have changed lives in their communities."

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