Loudoun County teens who are making big strides to improve their community received recognition and grant dollars to carry their visions to fruition.
Eighty teams submitted their ideas to Loudoun Youth Inc.’s seventh annual Step Up Loudoun Youth Competition this year, and four walked away with top awards following a ceremony April 5. The top 10 teams presented their projects to a panel of judges that evening at The Club at One Loudoun.
Rock Ridge High School student Kriti Ganotra won first place, and a $1,000 prize, for her project, Call of Security. Kriti developed a free machine to combat cyber threats with the goal of bringing her technology into every home and school in Loudoun County.
A project called Put It Down! won second place, and $750. The team of middle schoolers Freya Panchamia, Saumya Sharma, Paras Sarjapour and Iyush Hoysal created a campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving. The students attend Eagle Ridge, Mercer and Stone Hill middle schools.
John Champe High School students Palak Shah and Areej Khan took home a third-place prize, and $500, for their project, Clean Kits, that collects hygiene and sanitary products for homeless women in Loudoun County. Fourth place, and a $150 prize, went to Harper Park Middle School students Isabelle Nikkhoo and Tammy Noyomtes for their project, Every Voice Heard. They created a website that gives individuals an outlet to share their stories of struggling with depression and suicide. They also ran a fundraiser to contribute to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Loudoun Youth Inc. and Loudoun County Parks, Recreation and Community Services present the Step Up Loudoun Youth Competition annually in partnership with the Youth Advisory Council and Loudoun County Public Schools. Loudoun Youth offered a special thank you to the YouthQuest Foundation for providing funding for the competition since 2012.