Gitanjali Rao, a 15-year old Indian American, has become the first-ever ‘Kid Of The Year’ named by TIME magazine for her “astonishing work” using technology to tackle issues ranging from contaminated drinking water to opioid addiction and cyberbullying.
Gitanjali, a young scientist and inventor, was selected from a field of more than 5,000 nominees as TIME’s first-ever ‘Kid of the Year’. She invented a mobile device to test for lead in drinking water.
“The world belongs to those who shape it. And however uncertain that world may feel at a given moment, the reassuring reality seems to be that each new generation produces more of what these kids have already achieved: positive impact, in all sizes,” Time said.
Gitanjali was interviewed virtually by actor and activist Angelina Jolie for the TIME special. She spoke about her astonishing work using technology to tackle issues ranging from contaminated drinking water to opioid addiction and cyberbullying, and about her mission to create a global community of young innovators to solve problems the world over.
“Observe, brainstorm, research, build and communicate,” she said while speaking to Jolie.
She also spoke about her generation is facing many problems including human rights issues as well as the COVID-19 pandemic that has gripped the world.
“But then at the same time, we’re facing old problems that still exist. Like, we’re sitting here in the middle of a new global pandemic, and we’re also like still facing human-rights issues. There are problems that we did not create but that we now have to solve, like climate change and cyberbullying with the introduction of technology,” she said.
“I think more than anything right now, we just need to find that one thing we’re passionate about and solve it. Even if it’s something as small as, I want to find an easy way to pick up litter. Everything makes a difference. Don’t feel pressured to come up with something big,” she added.
Gitanjali has also developed a phone and web tool named ‘Kindly’, which uses artificial intelligence tools to detect possible early signs of cyberbullying.
The debut Kid of the Year award comes from a partnership between TIME and Nickelodeon. In the coming week, TIME will select its Person of the Year, which was won last year by another teenager: climate activist Greta Thunberg.