A changemaker on the rise: Vaishali’s journey to changing athletic culture in her community
10 Questions with Changemaker Vaishali:
What is your favorite breakfast food?
If you could be an animal, what animal would you be?
When you were 4, what did you want to be when you grew up?
What are you grateful for?
“Staying safe and being happy with my family”
What stereotype is inaccurate about young people?
“That we are all the same”
What stereotype is accurate about young people?
“That they aren’t mature enough”
What is unique in growing up today?
“The use of technology and its benefits toward the world”
What should others know about changemakers like you?
“Don’t be discouraged that we are young and hence cannot make a big difference in the world.”
“People won’t know who you are until after you start your journey. Don’t be afraid of the journey ahead of you.”
What advice would you give to other young people starting their changemaking journey?
“You’re going to find a ton of obstacles in your path, but you cannot let them get to you. Just deflect them and keep going”.
What is advice do you wish you had gotten when you started out?
“I wish that I was told that it takes a lot of time to achieve what you want.”
Since Kindergarten, Vaishali has been involved with the North South Foundation. The North South Foundation is a nonprofit organization in the United States and India that supports academic achievement and intellectual growth in young students across both countries. Through this Foundation, she learned key “life skills, including how to problem solve, think deeply, and take responsibility.” This mindset and her tenacious spirit set Vaishali on her changemaking journey.
In her local community of Johns Creek, Georgia, Vaishali saw a need for her and her peers to be more physically active. “I’ve always subconsciously wanted to bring about change but I never had the right venue to do it,” Vaishali reflects. “When I found Ashoka, it gave me the right framework, along with the North South Foundation to do everything that I needed to pursue my dreams and make a change in the world.”
During the summer of 2019, Ashoka and the North South Foundation collaborated to host webinars about changemaking to spark young people’s interest and commitment to social innovation. With a group of enthusiastic, like-minded young people, Vaishali was exposed to design-thinking, early steps to launch a social project, and a solutions-based approach to social change. This exposure propelled her to embark on her own changemaker journey.
The primary inspiration for Vaishali was Virat Kohli, the most talented cricketer in the world. People the world over respect Kohli for his immense talent, so they naturally follow his lead on fitness.
Instead of simply reading his views on fitness, Vaishali decided to incorporate fitness into her lifestyle. Once her family followed suit, she decided to promote a more active lifestyle in her community.
In her club of nine, Vaishali noticed a key issue: the lack of facilities. Her group particularly enjoyed playing cricket, but they didn’t have access to a cricket pitch. So, the group compensated by adapting their game to local tennis courts. Vaishali saw a need for a wider range of athletic facilities and decided to pursue local action.
Stepping up, she and her sister presented to their local city council and proposed a budget to build cricket courts in the Johns Creek community. The mayor was extremely impressed with their compelling proposals and proclaimed that he was proud of the youth in the community. The budget was approved, and the cricket pitch is ready for play.
When asked the question, “Why did she want to be a changemaker”, Vaishali quickly answered “If I don’t do something about problems I see in my community, then who will?”
Today, Vaishali promoting wellbeing and fitness in the midst of COVID-19. Her team hosts digital meet-ups twice a week online to encourage play, wellbeing, and community in a time of physical isolation.
Throughout Vaishali’s ever evolving changemaking journey, she has cultivated this special micro community where being active and socializing with peers is at the utmost importance. Not only has Vaishali made an impact on sport culture locally, but the members of the GetFit Club have created “this special bond, almost a family bond”.
Follow her journey on Instagram here.
LeadYoung Intern Pierson Gammage contributed to this story.