Stevenson students start campaign for ADHD awareness
Adlai. E. Stevenson High School seniors Riya Khandelwal, Meha Krishnareddigari and Gulnaaz Sayyad launched a campaign in late 2020 to raise awareness about Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.
They have also partnered and become official ambassadors of Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, a nationwide organization dedicated to helping those with ADHD and their loved ones.
"As students, although we have moderate insight regarding ADHD from our health classes or personal experiences, we lack understanding of the sheer vastness of the condition itself and the stigmas associated with those who have the conditions and its counterpart, ADD," Krishnareddigari said.
"It is estimated 8.4% of children and 2.5% of adults have ADHD, numbers that are only increasing. That being said, one in four people still have not been diagnosed, making the condition vastly underdiagnosed."
Co-founder Sayyad, said, "Project A², or Project ADHD Awareness, aims to combat the stigmas associated with ADHD and explore the different ways to raise awareness and speak for the millions of people who are diagnosed with the condition.
"The project has a target demographic of 10-15 years of age in efforts that the next generation of adults is able to grasp the concept of this misunderstood condition to avoid stigmatizing it and better diagnose and treat it in the future," Sayyad, said.
"Our interest in ADHD stemmed from the sheer vastness of the condition itself, combined with the misconceptions and stigma associated with it. When the average person is prompted with the question as to what ADHD is, all too often the answer is a behavioral disorder stemming from 'bad parenting' or other unrelated misidentified causes.
"Some of our own community members, when prompted, believed ADHD was simply 'kids making trouble.' To combat these stigmas, our group launched Project A², or Project ADHD Awareness, and our journey into the depths of ADHD began."
Community partners of Project A² include Future Doctors of America and Future Public Health Leaders, an organization for student leaders interested in health care to campaign and fundraise for global health issues.
Due to the fact that ADHD is a neurodevelopmental disorder, the group of change-driven teens found presenting to health-related organizations such as FDA and FPHL garnered an effective audience within their target demographic.
"Our most vital collaboration, however, is with Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, a national organization founded in 1987 in response to the sense of isolation experienced by those with ADHD," Krishnareddigari said.
"During our ongoing partnership and sponsorship with CHADD, we have fostered diverse facets of awareness, including creating an Innerview (youth volunteering) page, devising social media outlets, organizing service events with ADHD professionals and, most vitally, spreading Project A²'s message throughout our community and state."
In terms of accomplishments to date, the teens have fostered more than 20,000 interactions within the community, received the Hershey Heartwarming Action Grant of $250 and partnered with COO April-Gower Getz to be featured exclusively as CHADD's high school ambassadors.
"Our team concluded one of the primary reasons ADHD is underdiagnosed is due to stigmas associated with it along with general misunderstandings as to what ADHD is. Therefore, the most vital point of our project was eliminating the stigma associated with ADHD," Khandelwal said.
"This was achieved through interactive myth-busting presentations, long-lasting partnerships, as well as informative events that fostered everlasting impacts on our community. By being better informed about ADHD and our campaign, we believe you can help alter thousands of lives for the better."
For the future, Project A² plans on hosting more service and interactive events. To learn, visit linktr.ee/projectasquared.