[Image shows a headshot of Krisha Khandelwal from the waist up smiling, in a white crop sweatshirt and long wavy dark brown hair. Background shows a brown skyscraper and a leafless tree.]
I-CREATE YOUTH is expanding to promote disability advocacy and social justice in all domains of life. We've always been interested in creating a safe and welcoming community for marginalized youth, and we were fortunate to have interviewed the amazing Krisha Khandelwal on her nonprofit work, activism against school bullying, and experience in spreading awareness through education. Check out her organization, Let's Defeat Bullying, here, and learn more about I-CREATE YOUTH at icreateyouth.wixsite.com/site.
ICY: Tell us about yourself—your background, hobbies, interests, and anything else you’d want others to know.
KK: Hi everyone! I’m Krisha Khandelwal, I live in Seattle, WA, and I’m currently a sophomore in high school. I am an International level chess player, and I am the founder and Executive director of Let’s Defeat Bullying - a global non-profit organization that aims to educate and spread awareness about bullying, and provides help to victims in need and at risk of suicide. We are committed to changing the culture of students across the world through our various programs and social media campaigns.
ICY: What inspired you to become the Founder of Let's Defeat Bullying?
KK: I vividly remember what it was like when I was being bullied back in 6th grade. My best friends were the ones who bullied me, and ostracized me from their group, and they made it really difficult for me to make new friends. This was so frustrating and scary, and I felt trapped and lonely. I really did not know how to get out of this terrifying situation, and I despised going to school. The only thing that got me out of that horrible situation was asking for help. Informing my parents and teachers, put an end to the bullying immediately. While I still did not have many people to talk to at school, I felt so much better knowing that I was not alone in facing the bullies. I was comforted by the fact that my parents and teachers had stood up for me, and had publicly called out the bullies for what they had done.
This one incident had really changed me. Even though they bullied me only for a few months, it’s consequences stayed with me for much longer. I became an introvert and I didn’t want to make friends anymore. But, when I started reading up on bullying and interacted with other victims, I realized that I was not alone and there were millions of people around the world who are silently suffering through this never-ending problem. Even in our modern, progressive society, bullying is often overlooked and commonly dismissed as a rite of passage, but it affects more than one-fifth of children at school and a similar number of adults at their workplace. I then started speaking out about my experience with bullying and ever since then I became an anti-bullying advocate.
In August 2020, I started my own non-profit organization called ‘Let’s Defeat Bullying’ with an aim to provide help to victims of bullying and those at risk of suicide. When I first started ‘Let’s Defeat Bullying’, I figured it would be a small blog with me posting bullying related information on our social media accounts. I had never imagined that my organization would actually impact victims who were bullied, and expand to a team of 40+ passionate high schoolers from all over the world. Since our launch in August 2020, we have impacted 500+ victims of bullying and partnered with 30+ schools to provide a safer and anti-bullying school environment. This is just the beginning, and ‘Let’s Defeat Bullying’ has got a long way to go!
ICY: In that vein, what is Let's Defeat Bullying's mission and how have you been working towards that goal?
KK: At Let’s Defeat Bullying, our mission is to educate parents, students, and teachers about the detrimental effects of bullying, and work towards defeating it. We strive to promote and enhance social wellness among today’s youth by empowering and encouraging them to address bullying. We aim to enhance and foster a school’s ability to address bullying incidents in a proactive and timely manner through our programs, as well as by creating education and prevention strategies.
We run multiple programs such as the Mentoring Program, The Buddy System, and a specialized program for schools. Each of these programs incorporate different strategies to help victims defeat bullying and become the boldest version of themselves.
You can learn more about each of our programs at our website - https://www.letsdefeatbullying.com/
ICY: In addition to your involvement in anti-bullying campaigns, you’re also the Co-founder of Project Injoy. How has your experience been working to nurture young minds through unique ways?
KK: Project Injoy is another non-profit organisation that I co-founded with my sister. Through Project Injoy, we aim to nurture the minds of today’s youth through chess and Indian Classical music.
We conduct chess workshops and tournaments in municipal schools all over India as we firmly believe that the skills developed through chess are fundamental to thrive in all aspects of life.
Through teaching them Indian Classical vocals and the harmonium, we hope to empower them and give them an avenue to express their creativity.
We also conduct weekly mental health workshops to help them rise above their problems and become the bolder and stronger version of themselves.
Our 4th initiative, EDUjoy, gives them a unique perspective on how they can tap on their interests and aptitude to find the corresponding career options.
Through Project Injoy, we hope to decrease the violence rate and increase the graduation numbers, and we work towards giving the lesser privileged a promising tomorrow.
Working alongside today's youth to help them achieve their highest potential has always been really inspiring and eye opening. I have honestly learnt so much from them as well, and it’s really interesting to see how activities like chess and music actually transforms their lives and helps them in the future.
ICY: You really do value interdisciplinary interests, seeing from your involvement in social justice, chess, and the performing arts among others. What is your experience like juggling all these interests?
KK: Honestly, managing school, non-profit work, my extracurriculars and the other things that I do is definitely not easy. Prioritizing is an important skill that I’ve learnt over time and I strongly believe that if you make time for what you believe is important, then there will be time for everything.
ICY: I’ve been so inspired by your experience as an advocate for underrepresented youth. Do you have any advice to give to youth on taking a similar path in advocacy?
KK: I would say that when you have an idea or you want to start something for a social cause, don’t feel scared to execute it. So, I’ve noticed that a lot of people spend a lot of time just figuring out logistics and planning, instead of actually executing their plan. So, my advice would be to just jump in head first, don’t be scared to take risks, and do what you want to do. Because the only way you’re actually going to learn how to be an entrepreneur is if you jump right into it, and not by just sitting and planning.