Gachibowli: Over 80 young changemakers of Indian origin from across the globe have received the 2021 Diana Award. Established in the memory of Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales, the Diana Award is given to youngsters aged 9-25 for their humanitarian and social work. In Telangana, 10 out of 13 students who have received the 2021 Diana Award featured from Oakridge International School, Gachibowli.
Oakridgers Adit Nikhil Upadhaye, 14, Aryan Bodla, 17, Ashug Gurijala, 16, Eshika Madal, 16, Himanshu Rao Kalvakuntla, 15, Neysa Agarwal, 15, Royan Bhupatiraju, Shayan Menon, Shourya Kadam, 15, Tejaswi Polimetla, 18, have made a mark with the award for understanding and taking the collective responsibility towards others and helping make the world a better place.
Adit has channelled his fundraising and volunteer efforts to support children based in the local orphanage who can have a health check-up and access the medicines they needed. On the other hand, Oakridger Aryan had created the project ‘Anandam’ to raise awareness amongst juvenile offenders and give them a platform to enrol in tutorials and activities and empower young people with life skills.
“Regardless of who you are or where you come from, do your bit. Even the smallest act of service counts,” says Ashug, who raised over 2.5 lakh rupees ($3,500) and helped over 1,000 rural children to get academically aligned science and math kits, geo puzzles, brainteasers, and educational board games.
Eshika campaigns for tackling breast cancer and distributed 500 informational pamphlets in local newspapers, showing how to perform self-examinations and encouraging women over 25 to have mammograms. She impacted 3,000 people by helping organise the two-kilometer ‘Pink Ribbon Walk’ and has used her increasingly developed communication skills to give educational talks and set up an Instagram account and website to spread her message further.
Himanshu is a solution-driven activist, committed to making villages across Telangana self-sustainable. He does this through his initiative ‘Shoma’, which aims to support communities through the installation of food processing units that can produce unadulterated food. While Oakridger Tejaswi campaigns for environmental conservation as well as tutoring students to build the leadership skills she has nurtured from an early age.
Neysa raised over Rs. 80000 to help educate underprivileged children. She also campaigns for improving access to sanitary napkins for underprivileged women in India and distributed 200-period kits each containing four reusable pads and two cotton facemasks. While Oakridger Royan is helping an entire village to access disease-free water and hygienic toilets. He constructed toilets for 200 families of the village, leading to a reduction in diseases like diarrhea and typhoid. Fundraised to provide the village with a water-purifying tank, so that residents no longer need to travel long distances to access clean drinking water.
Shayan contributed towards building the future of education through fundraising. Built a computer for underprivileged kids to support virtual learning during the lockdown.
“Cognizance is the first step towards understanding, taking responsibility, and acting for a cause greater than our individualities,” says Shourya who had started a project titled ‘The Causation to Cognizance’. He sought to both understand and promote climate awareness and activism, conducting extensive interviews, discussions, and surveys in his community while creating blogs, original visual art, and music pieces. He donated the revenue from these to a climate change NGO. Soon after, he joined ‘Friday’s for Future’ and founded his own student-led organisation called ‘OCEAN Environmentals’, working towards wildlife and resource conservation in a changing world.
“I always tell my students – You are never too young to change the world. Take one step at a time. Start small and be consistent and there will be no turning back. It is little wonder that as many as 10 students have clinched the most coveted Diana Award,” says Shalini Samuel of the Community Action Services (CAS) Department at Oakridge Gachibowli.
“Volunteering and service learning helps provide an opportunity for students to learn, grow into valuable members of the society and become well-rounded individuals. Starting young plays major role in their personal growth. At Oakridge, community service is very dear to their hearts. Volunteering is part of every student’s life through which they build patience, self-confidence, a natural sense of responsibility and wonderful feeling of the impact they can make to the society. Being recognized by Diana award, volunteers not only feel appreciated and important, it encourages them to keep continuing their great work. We are proud of our students who set out to make a difference in the world besides these unprecedented times,” said Hema Chennupaty, Principal, Oakridge Gachibowli.