MILAN – Sonali Ranaweera, aged 14, of California, and Deepika Kurup, aged 17, of New Hampshire, were among the 17 winners of the Gloria Barron Prize 2015, after they played a key role in supporting the poorest populations and in protecting the environment. Now in its 15th year, the Barron Prize recognises the commitment of young people who are aged between 8 and 18 and resident in the USA and Canada, and who over the course of the year have had a significant positive impact on people, their communities and the environment.
Recycling Ranaweera’s way
Ranaweera launched Recycling4Smiles, which collects recyclable plastic bottles and cans and has raised more than $40,000 to fund dozens of cleft lip surgeries. She has also funded dental care for roughly 1,000 children in rural areas of Sri Lanka and has provided school supplies, clothing and lunches for hundreds of children in need around the world. The Indian American teen launched her project at the young age of 11. After achieving early success, Ranaweera immediately formulated a new plan to increase revenues and enable more people to enjoy the benefits of recycling. Her brother and her friends helped her to follow her dream. Ranaweera says, “I’ve learned that you can make a difference in the lives of others and help our earth without needing to have a lot of money or power. Nothing is impossible if you are dedicated to a cause.”
Kurup’s purified water
Meanwhile, Deepika Kurup invented a sustainable low-cost method of purifying water. Her solar-powered device destroys bacteria in wastewater within just 15 minutes of filtration and exposure to sunlight. The device is powered by renewable energy that would also run larger purification systems. Kurup had already won the America’s Top Young Scientist award and the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge award in the past. This mature girl has a huge heart and started working on these projects after visiting family in India and seeing children drink water from nearby streams. Many teenagers around the world spend most of their time collecting water rather than attending school. Around 4,000 of them die every day due to water-related diseases.
by editorial staff