What I Wish My Parents Knew.....

An inspiring and courageous group of 17 students and 10 parents from Phoenix came together on the afternoon of Sunday, June 27th to make history! In a one-of-a-kind 'hackathon' event, these individuals demonstrated the power of intent and collaborative effort to tackle very pressing issues for both the children and parents in our Indian community.

As you may be aware, we started the series What I Wish My Parents Knew earlier this year in an attempt to raise awareness of important issues affecting the mental health of teenagers, especially in the Indian community, and provide a forum for constructive dialogue between parents and students to improve the state of affairs. Over the past four months, GYM students shared their inputs and perspective on these topics, along with some recommendations, in AZIndiaTimes.

This past weekend, on June 27th, we conducted a virtual "hackathon" on this subject, where five parent-student teams came together to discuss the issues and underlying factors, brainstorm ideas collaboratively, and present their solutions. Each of the five teams was presented with a different real-life scenario from a high school student's life in the realm of academic pressures, parental expectations, more freedom & independence to students, or taking care of mental health. Then, in a short 1.5 hour sprint, each of the teams worked intently to come up with their well-thought-out proposal to remediate the situation.

This was followed by a 10-minute presentation by each team, where both students and parents pitched their ideas and solutions; some of these included role plays and skits. The team members also addressed some tough questions by a panel of three judges - Neha Reddy, Sabitha Tata, and our own Satish Kosuri.

At the end, the judging panel deliberated to pick the top three presentations to be featured in AZIndia over the remainder of the year. These were from teams 3M, Freedom Fighters, and The Ugly Ducklings - placed 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, respectively.

While the long-standing situations impacting our children won’t change dramatically overnight, we believe this hackathon is a step in the right direction to start the conversations in our families and communities to hopefully generate the momentum for a transformational change. We applaud all those who participated in this exercise to respectfully challenge the status quo and address a taboo topic for our community:

Students: Adhiti Yerramilli, Aditi Kelwalkar, Ajay Taduri, Anvita Veeramachaneni, Bhavagna Yellamraju, Chinmai Giddigam, Divya Aadi, Ishana Jain, Krishna Latchupatula, Laasya Kotta, Medha Peddireddi, Mounika Mandhari, Nagasriya Ramisetty, Nandhini Gopireddy, Saketh Erramilli, Shreya Guggilla, Tanvi Sathish

Parents: Anil Kelwalkar, Dhanunjaya Penmatcha, Karuna Ramisetty, Rajesh Aadi, Sathish Muthukrishnan, Satish Guggilla, Satya Taduri, Shashi Jasthi, Someshwar Rao Giddigam, Venu Latchupatula

Thanks again to our friends from AZIndia for their sustained partnership to sponsor such impactful causes, and to you readers, for your ongoing engagement and support. Together, we can enable our youth to embark on their journey to become their best versions in a better state of mental health. This will also favorably influence the dynamics of our families towards more collaborative and harmonious outcomes.

Mallik Reddy is the Founder and Chief Coach of Greatness for Young Minds (GYM), a free leadership and personal development program for high school students. Opinions expressed here are solely his own and do not represent the views or opinions of his employer. If you have any input, observations, or ideas on this topic, please reach out to him at [email protected]