Some Surrey residents have earned Diana Awards “for going above and beyond in daily life to create and sustain positive change.”
The U.K.-based award is named in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales, who would have turned 60 on Thursday, July 1.
Nearly 400 young people across the globe were given the award during a virtual ceremony Monday (June 28), including Surrey-area winners Tavisha Kochhar, Rabiah Dhaliwal and Simryn Atwal.
Surrey’s Tavisha Kochhar, 15, first felt the spark of civic duty when she was 11 years of age, according to a biography.
“Devastated to learn of people being forced from their homes by wildfires in British Columbia, Tavisha wanted to reach out and help in whatever way she could. She soon began decorating found objects (recyclable material to repurpose for better use) to sell and raise funds to help the causes she was so passionate about. Since then, Tavisha has donated $850 to the Canadian Red Cross, $3,000 to local hospitals and the Make-a-Wish foundation, and $5,140 to hospitals during the pandemic and the Australian wildfire relief at the beginning of 2020.”
Fellow Diana Award winner Rabiah Dhaliwal, 21, grew up as “a young neurodivergent woman of colour, with few role models to identify with,” according to a biography.
“Now, Rabiah is the founder and director of the Voices for Hope Foundation, a non-profit challenging mental health stigma through an intersectional lens, giving BIPOC and LGBTQ+ individuals a platform to share their experiences.
“Rabiah recently called for a Mental Health Parity Act while speaking at the House of Commons and is creating ‘sensory hubs’ – spaces in schools where neurodiverse students can decompress. Rabiah is the former vice president of the ‘One Blood for Life Foundation’, where she recruited over 1,400 stem cell registrants and more than 3,000 blood donors.”
Another of the award winners is Surrey resident Simryn Atwal, 25
“As someone with generalised anxiety disorder, Simryn experienced the lack of mental health support in her inner-city school first-hand,” says a bio. “She sought to plug the service gaps, becoming the youngest ever regional chair of ‘Kids Help Phone’, where she raised $60,000 to support access to free counselling for thousands of young people and consulted hundreds of others on how to better meet their needs. After doubts about her age and her ability when she launched her nonprofit, ‘Bridge the Gap’, Simryn used these barriers of age, gender and ethnicity as springboards to bring underrepresented perspectives into the dialogue about mental health services for over 3,000 Surrey youth.”
During the Diana Award nomination process, award recipients are put forward by adults who know the young people in a professional capacity and recognized their efforts as a positive contribution to society. Nominees are judged in for vision, social impact, inspiring others, youth leadership and service journey.
There are 12 Diana Award judging panels representing each U.K. region or nation, and another three panels representing countries outside of the U.K.
Tessy Ojo, CEO of The Diana Award, congratulates all new Diana Award recipients “who are changemakers for their generation.
“We know by receiving this honour they will inspire more young people to get involved in their communities and begin their own journey as active citizens. For over 20 years The Diana Award has valued and invested in young people encouraging them to continue to make positive change in their communities and lives of others.”
More award details are posted to diana-award.org.uk.