Q&A With Microgrant Recipient Shreya
Karma for Cara Microgrants help fund exceptional service projects led by youth 18 and under working to better their communities. Read about our microgrant recipient, Shreya who created “Step Up 2 Check Up”. This project donated automatic blood pressure machines to the schools in India so students have an opportunity to get their blood pressures checked annually.
1. What inspired to start this project?
I have been a part of Girl Scouts for over a decade. For my Gold Award project, I decided to use my experiences with hypertension as a source of inspiration. I had been diagnosed with hypertension since the age of eight. My project initiated the blood pressure checking in children all over the world by generating awareness on this issue to thousands of students. This project, called Step Up 2 Check Up, was established in 2014, but still continues today. My activism focuses on encouraging students to get their blood pressures checked, and spreading hypertension awareness in children all over the world.
When I was in elementary school, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, or hypertension. This was treated with medication and a major renovascular surgery that lasted for twelve hours, and a recovery time of six months. I realized how lucky I was since my hypertension was detected and treated in a timely manner because my blood pressure was checked as a child.
2. Why is your work important to you?
While my father was growing up in India, his dad was a doctor. Despite having many health resources available, my father never once had gotten his blood pressure checked as a child. If my father had hypertension as a child, it would have gone undetected and led to future health problems such as heart disease or stroke. Many people worldwide believe that high blood pressure does not affect children and only affects adults over the age of 60. However, that is not true! When I was in India, I was shocked because out of all the students I spoke to, none had ever gotten their blood pressure checked before. I noticed a lack of awareness about importance of checking blood pressure in children. Therefore, I offered a simple solution: At your next doctor’s visit, request to have your blood pressure checked. This is important to me because of my personal experience and story. If I hadn’t checked my blood pressure as a child, my condition would have never been detected early.
3. How did the money from the microgrant help with your project?
The money I received from Karma for Cara aided my project tremendously. During the past three summers, at each school presentation in India, I started off with some basic questions. (I just had the students raise their hands if they could answer “yes” to any of the questions) One of the questions I asked was “How many of you have recently gotten your blood pressure checked by a doctor?” Something that was a huge eye opener for me was out of all the students I reached out to, not one, single person raised their hand when asked if they had ever checked their blood pressure. These students were my age, in high school. Here, in the United States, it is required that pediatricians check a child’s blood pressure from a very young age. With this money, I donated five automatic blood pressure machines to the schools in India so the students have an opportunity to get their blood pressures checked annually. I was also able to print two thousand Step Up 2 Check Up hypertension awareness flyers and bookmarks to hand out to during my presentations, and cover part of my travel expenses to India.
4. What message of giving back do you have for others?
I learned that if there is a point in life where adversity is present, the best thing that can be done is to turn it into something positive. My struggle with hypertension caused me great hardships, but gave me purpose to not take anything for granted and encourage awareness in others. I hope to continue my endeavor of spreading awareness on hypertension until all children in India, and the world, get their blood pressures checked regularly.