Four Indian-American teenagers have received the Gloria Barron Prize for Young Heroes for making a positive difference in people’s lives, communities, and the environment.
The winners include Karina Samuel, 17, from Florida; Karun Kaushik, 17, from California; Laalitya Acharya, 18, from Ohio; and Sri Nihal Tammana, 13, from New Jersey.
Established in 2001 by author T.A.Barron, the Barron Prize is a non-profit organization annually honoring 25 outstanding young leaders from ages 8 to 18. The award celebrates inspiring, public-spirited young people from diverse backgrounds all across North America.
Every year, 15 top winners are each awarded $10,000 to support their service work or higher education.
Karina Samuel was honored for founding the Florida chapter of Bye Bye Plastic Bags (BBPB), a student-led non-profit committed to reducing the amount of plastic on the planet. In the past three years, she has mobilized more than 1,000 volunteers to join over 175 coastal cleanups across the state.
Karun Kaushik has created X-Check-MD, an Artificial Intelligence (AI) software that can diagnose Covid-19 and pneumonia with 99 percent accuracy in under one minute.
Laalitya Acharya has invented Nereid – a low-cost, globally applicable device that can detect water contamination within seconds. Her system uses Artificial Intelligence and can be placed directly into water pipes to detect microbial water contamination at low concentrations before it spreads.
Nihal Tammana’s non-profit, Recycle My Battery, installs free battery recycling bins and educates young people and adults about battery recycling. In just three years he has built a team of 220 student volunteers across the globe who have recycled nearly 200,000 batteries and educated millions of people.
Since its inception, the Barron Prize has awarded more than half a million dollars to hundreds of young leaders and has won the support of the National Geographic Education Foundation, Girl Scouts of the USA, and the National Youth Leadership Council, among other organizations.