Ashoka Innovators for the Public, which supports the world’s largest network of social entrepreneurs, has selected 19 teenage changemakers from 12 Indian states, including rural areas and small towns, for the second global edition of Ashoka Young Changemakers.
Ashoka has selected these dynamic changemakers from thousands of nominations, whose social initiatives in the fields of environment, human rights, conservation, healthcare, education, and agriculture have not only generated awareness but also changed the livelihoods of people around them. These bright young sparks will be the representatives of this network, which aims to realise a Everyone is a Changemaker (EACH) world.
From addressing mental health, to economic inequality, to online education, these young changemakers are:
- Aaryani Sahay, Bangalore, Let’s Talk: With an inspiration to tackle the stigma around mental health, she co-founded Let’s Talk after her own struggle with anxiety at age 12, to spread awareness about mental health among adolescents by conducting sessions in both rural and urban schools in Karnataka.
- Sanskruti Dalavi, Maharashtra, Shram Daan: To tackle the problem of declining groundwater, she and her team implemented rainwater harvesting techniques over the last three years to raise the water level in her village.
- Vanika Sangtani, Rajasthan, AgED: With an aim to reduce the stigma around education for older citizens, in order to empower education for all ages, she and her team created a digital learning platform for the older generation by enabling digital workshops on topics like passion, self-awareness, technology, mythology etc. Till now, AgED has impacted 100+ lives all over India.
- Sreelakshmi VP, Kerala, Quit to Care: She founded Quit to Care – No Smoking Campaign to create public awareness about the ill-effects of tobacco consumption.
- Aditi Gera, Madhya Pradesh, Empowerette: Realizing the strengths and shortcomings of Hashtag activism, Aditi started Empowerette to help underprivileged girls through a mentorship program to develop leadership and support emotional health, with attention to holistic growth.
- Farhana Roshan, Telangana, Targib Group: An initiative addressing the issue of girls’ education in her community, leading by her example, she reaches out to parents and persuades them to let their girls’ study further. Targib has managed to support 50 girls by getting them admitted to residential schools to date.
- Omkar Ganu, Maharashtra, Sagar Seva: With aim to create awareness on the indispensable plastic accumulation in the oceans, he and his team conducts dissolved oxygen (DO) testing of the local rivers.
- Priyaswara Bharti, Bihar, BYCR (Bihar Youth for Child Rights): BYCR creates awareness and advocates child rights by conducting events via online and offline mediums. Priyaswara found a sense of empowerment through her project and even changed the mentality of people around her.
- Upasana Ravikannan, Chennai, GoPaadhai: Deeply empathising with the problem of inequality in education, Upasana started her initiative GoPaadhai when she was 16, to support underprivileged schools with resources to sustain quality education.
- Lavanya Rathi, New Delhi, Tele-upchaar: . Tele-upchaar’s main goal is to provide the best care in the easiest way possible for those who have limited access to basic healthcare facilities. The team has supported over 200 patients with low access to primary healthcare in under-resourced senior citizens homes and inner-city slums.
- Aniket Gupta, New Delhi, Indian Science & Technology Campaign: Aniket, started this initiative to promote experiential learning and skill development in STEM subjects. With 12 team members, their initiative has reached 20 different schools benefiting over 20,000 students and 200 teachers.
- Aranyo Ray, West Bengal, NanoCide & SoyaSafe: From an early age, he witnessed the havoc created by pesticides on farmers and decided to set in by developing safer, eco-friendly, and effective alternatives. With the support of his team of 11 members and local farmers’ cooperatives, he was successful in impacting the lives of more than 1800 marginalized farmers and their livelihoods.
- Arjun Pandey, New Delhi, Kicking Gender Boundaries: After understanding the severity of transphobia in Indian society, Arjun founded Kicking Gender Boundaries when he was 16. They conduct football matches as a medium to promote inclusivity and breaking taboos. The initiative has impacted more than 2000 people from the LGBTQIA+ community in Delhi.
- Mudit Pathak, Uttar Pradesh, Artistic By Nature: To destigmatize art as a career and to promote the artists around him by providing a platform to explore opportunities, Mudit co-founded Artistic by Nature, they have helped 1000+ artists in finding gigs by giving them volunteering, freelancing, and internship opportunities. He also established Yogi Gang, an incubatory venture for early-stage entrepreneurs.
- Akarsh Shroff, Bangalore, Spark: With aim to utilize the power of ‘social media as a force of social good’, Akarsh has set-up Spark to activate young people as ‘Impact makers.’ Through his organic micro-influencer outreach strategy, Akarsh and his co-founder have inspired more than 400 students with no prior volunteering experience and have managed to impact the lives of more than 5,000 orphans and first-generation school-goers in Bangalore.
- Kavya Gupta, Uttar Pradesh, Bhavishya Foundation: With the experience of volunteering for a river cleaning drive, Kavya realised the need for environmental education to be more experiential and focussed on mindset. He started Bhavishya Foundation that creates these learning journeys by continuously engaging young people in various activities like tree plantations. Till date, they have taught more than 2000 children to date and planted nearly 3000 saplings through plantation drives in Uttar Pradesh.
- Subhadeep Purkayastha, Assam, EcoAlarmist: EcoAlarmist was started initially with online videos and progressed to organising offline campaigns like plantation drives, sustainable donation drives, food wastage campaign for restaurants, and sanitation programs with school students. Today with a core team of 5 and more than 50 volunteers, they have influenced several start-ups, local businesses, and organisations to incorporate sustainability practices in various aspects of their work.
- Rishabh Pratap Singh, Uttar Pradesh, Anima Drive: Growing up in Uttar Pradesh, the problem of abandoning non-lactating cattle was a daily sight for Rishabh. He empathised with the problem and started Anima Drive to solve this issue. With a team of 20 student members and 6 rural women, Rishabh is making it financially viable for farmers and Gaushalas to take care of non-lactating cattle.
- Zain Samdani, Telangana, ExoHeal: Witnessing his uncle suffer a stroke and get paralysed, Zain identified the need for affordable and effective rehabilitation devices and services for such patients, he developed, a therapeutic glove that mimics muscular motion in one limb and moves the paralysed limb. He built a core team of 4 members and partners with a therapeutic centre to help more than 50 patients regain sensations and recover 30% faster.
Yashveer Singh, Global Director, Ashoka Young Changemakers said, “We at Ashoka believe that we are living in a world that is defined by rapid change, where we need more and more people contributing to solving world’s most critical problems. Our growing community of Ashoka Young Changemakers are role models for young people to start early and lead change. Despite many obstacles and uncertainties that came with the pandemic, they preserved their energies in bringing change and remain committed to their goal of advancing their communities.
Young people growing up as changemakers and solving problems for the good of all have the power of writing India’s next growth story. They have the potential to inspire an entire generation and are our co-leaders in building a society where everyone realizes their power to give and bring change.”
These Young Changemakers will be exposed to a global platform where they will be given access to co-leadership boot camps, media partnerships, public speaking platforms, exposure visits, strategic allies, and more opportunities to groom themselves to be the influencers of youth culture in India.