Two teenage girls from Hyderabad have been running a successful initiative ‘Vishwasa’ to create awareness about mental health and teach life skills to students at government schools and orphanages across the city.

The 16-year-old duo, Rhea Thakkal and Ankitha Reddy, founded the NGO ‘Vishwasa’ in 2019 with an aim to create awareness about mental health in school children alongside conducting life skill sessions.

Talking to ANI, the founders said that after conducting around 70 interviews in government schools and orphanages, they found out that most of the children have self-doubts about their goals, so they decided to encourage them to reach their dream goal.

“Ankitha wanted to work on Mental health, while I was more into the importance of life skills, especially for underprivileged children. We realised that for both the issues school-going children are our target audience,” Rhea said.

“We encourage them to dream. We conduct sessions on concentration, gender equality, body shaming, racism, and several other aspects as a part of life skills teaching program,” she added.

Talking about hurdles in their journey, Rhea said initially people hesitated to take them seriously because they themselves were teenagers.

“Though we have faced a lot of problems in the initial stages, we didn’t want to give up on our idea to help these children. So, with the support from families, friends, and contacts we proceeded to achieve our target and move forward in our journey. We were able to conduct sessions at government schools and orphanages. Gradually, teachers and students started understanding the importance of mental health and life skills,” she said.

After the pandemic hit India, the duo said they didn’t want to halt their assisstance to children.

Ankita informed that after the COVID-19 lockdown was imposed in India, they changed their project model and are now creating video modules on mental health video modules and media impact.

“We have set two main ways of conveying the message to the students, one by creating video modules and the other by creating impactful social media posts. As a part of the video modules, we are creating video content in both English as well as in Telugu about mental health, depressions, stigmas, and several other issues. Then these video clips are sent to various government schools and orphanages. We get feedback from the schools’ faculties and suggestions on what other topics can be discussed,” said Ankita.

The founders informed that with the help of a team of around 40 teenage volunteers, ‘Vishwasa’ is sending these video modules to about 250 children all over Hyderabad.

The project has also joined hands with Manojagriti, a team of psychologists, and has been working closely with them.
Ankitha further said that even during the first wave, they also raised funds of Rs 14.9 lakhs to provide meals to about 60,000 to 70,000 migrant labourers. (ANI)