You are never too young to change the world, and these teenagers are showing us how. Breaking all kinds of barriers that come their way, these changemakers are making conscious efforts to find solutions to various social problems, one step at a time. These girls have become role models for many others to follow their dreams with passion and determination.
Apoorvi Bharatram (17), Happiness Project
Growing up, Apoorvi witnessed her sister’s struggle with clinical depression. She became increasingly curious about the topic, and when she observed a lack of access to quality mental healthcare, especially in government schools, she decided to fix the problem.
In 2019, Apoorvi started the Happiness Project that helps gauge the happiness quotient of government school students and trains teachers as para-counsellors. Students are assessed in several areas, including depression, anxiety, substance abuse, as well as body image issues.
Through this venture, students are encouraged to share their mental health struggles without fear, and even help others talk about their experiences. Now, Apoorvi is developing an app to increase the reach of the Happiness Quotient in schools across India.
She has been selected as an Ashoka Changemaker, and plans to pursue her higher education in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, USA.
Siya Tayal (15), Project I Am Enough
This young changemaker from Gurugram was only eight when she established Bee Nifty, an initiative that manufactured recyclable bags from waste fabric scraps. Moreover, it provided sustainable livelihood opportunities to rural women in Haryana. Her efforts helped her become one of the youngest speakers to be invited to the UN headquarters in Geneva.
Now, the 15-year-old school student is making news for creating a safe space for herself and other young people who have experienced body shaming in their lives. Project I Am Enough was launched in July 2020 to spread awareness about eating disorders, impart the message of self-love, and stand up against body shaming.
Within no time, it has developed into a network of close to 500 people, who belong to different walks of life — artists, singers, and dancers, who use creative means to express what they feel for their bodies.
Open to all genders, the project hopes to organise physical events post the pandemic.
Sanchika Motani and Anika Taneja (14)
These two girls are only 14, but they are working to provide a solution to one of the biggest taboos of society — menstruation. When they hit puberty, both Sanchika and Anika, like many others, watched their friends hide sanitary napkins in their pockets or sleeves, or get embarrassed if they had blood stains on their clothes. All in all, they realised periods came with a lot of stress.
Sanchika and Anika, students of The Shri Ram School in Delhi, met at the Young Entrepreneurs Academy. The two brainstormed together several times, and realised they were passionate about this cause, and started Li’l Lady, Grow with Confidence.
A period kit for young girls, it has all the essential items one needs during a period — a pad cover, two organic pads, two intimate wipes, a sanitiser, a pocket perfume, handmade heat pad, a separate packet for stained underwear, and a bar of dark chocolate for those pesky PMS blues.
It also comes with a period diary that not only provides information about periods, but includes healthy diet suggestions and a period tracker.
The period kit is priced at Rs 750. Sanchika and Anika plan to share some proceeds from the profit to an NGO Pratisandhi. In the future, they also plan to retail the kit through Amazon and Flipkart.
Harshita Jain (16), Necessiteas
This young student from the American Embassy School in New Delhi has founded a tea startup called Necessiteas that makes delicious bubble tea. Harshita, who is a part of the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, thought of this idea after she came across a story involving bubble tea.
A big fan of bubble tea herself, she realised the quality of this variety of tea available in India was not the best, and decided to find a solution. Today, some of the flavours sold by the company are imported from Taiwan.
Harshita credits her grandfather for instilling her with an entrepreneurial spirit as she would hear him speak of his venture, ever since she was a child.
As of now, the startup is being financed by the family, and the tea is also being produced in her house with their support. In due course of time, Harshita plans to open pop-up stores.
(Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)