An Indian American New Jersey teen was among four young community leaders honored with a 2015 Nickelodeon Helping and Leading Others award. Ruchita Zaparde, 18, of Plainsboro, N.J., was awarded the HALO honor during a Nov. 29 concert that aired across Nickelodeon and its sister networks. The concert was part of a celebration of Zaparde and three other youth – Ethan Cruikshank of Virginia, Riley Gantt of California and Joshua Williams of Florida – for their contributions to their communities.
A student at the Princeton Day School in Princeton, N.J., Zaparde was honored for her Sew A Future project, which helps women achieve financial stability by becoming seamstresses.
The Indian American teenager started the project after a family trip to India where she saw the difficulties widows in the country faced.
Through Sew A Future, now in its sixth year, Zaparde locates women in need in India and delivers sewing machines and supplies to them. Fundraising efforts by nearly 1,500 students at 57 schools in 30 states throughout the U.S. have led to more than 200 families receiving sewing machines in India.
“Being a HALO honoree means sharing Sew A Future on a platform larger than I’ve even been a part of before, which is incredible,” Zaparde told myCentralJersey.com in an article published Nov. 22.
Zaparde added in the report that it is extremely important for teens to give back to their community, no matter how big or small the contribution.
“We all get so caught up in our lives that sometimes we forget there are people living in our global community who struggle to get by on a daily basis,” she added in the myCentralJersey.com report.
The Nickelodeon HALO awards is an annual event now in its seventh year that recognizes real-life kids who are making extraordinary contributions in their communities. Winners are awarded a grant for their organization and scholarship funds.