Dubai girl Simran Vedyas at New York's Times Square. Her picture can be seen at the top right corner of the screen behind Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A Dubai girl has made it to the iconic billboard of Times Square in New York because of her environmental initiatives.

For four consecutive days this month, massive screens at the world’s most famous commercial intersection featured the picture of 14-year-old Simran Vedvyas, who is flying back to Dubai from the UN headquarters on August 15 after representing the UAE at the 12th United Nations Youth Assembly programme.

“Every few minutes, my picture would show up on the big screens. And it went on for around 100 hours. I could not have asked for anything more,” said Simran, speaking over the phone from New York where she got to rub shoulders with former US Vice President Al Gore and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The Grade 10 student impressed everybody with her presentations and talks on how to involve the youth in environment–related issues. “Every act counts and if each one of us takes the responsibility of preserving our natural resources, the world will be a much better place to live. The youth are the future champions. This is the message I want to convey,” she said.

Simran has worked hard to reach where she has. In the last few years, she has attended dozens of international conferences.

Besides representing the Middle East and North Africa as Global Youth Board member for Plant-for-the-Planet, she is also Chapter Leader of International Youth Council, United Arab Emirates, Worldview Mission Youth Ambassador to UN and Head of Communication at Worldview Mission and Chairperson, Plant a Tree at Alexis Society.

“My parents are my biggest supporters. But it was a visit to my grandfather’s farm in Lucknow, India which made me green conscious. I was just four years old then and was so fascinated by the farm that I would spend all day there, digging into the soil and learning to plant vegetables. It was fun, but the experience stuck.

So is it a challenge to get gadget-addicted youngsters to take up environmental issues?

“Not really. When I started Synergy Youth (a student-led environmental initiative), I thought it would be tough. But I have been pleasantly surprised, as today, we have over 300 members working on a number of green programmes.”