New for 2013 the Help Desk blog will feature guest posts by various people and organizations in and outside of the Burlington High School community. Although guest posts will cover a wide variety of topics, every post will demonstrate the power of learning in a connected, global society. Are you a student, educator, parent, administrator, entrepreneur, developer, creative thinker, change agent, innovator, consultant, speaker, writer, or disruptor? We want to hear from you! If you are interested in being featured as a guest blogger, please complete the contact form at the bottom of this page.
My name is Nikhil Thakkar. I am a 16 year old junior at Burlington High School. In December 2012, I founded the free, bilingual, alcohol and drug education program, SAFE, and currently utilize technology to educate about 27,000 students each week. I have been a presenter at TEDx and my program, to date, has been implemented in 5 countries.
I started my program SAFE for two reasons (you can read about these on my blog). I wanted to use engaging methods to educate adolescents about the dangers of drinking and drugging as well as about the importance of leadership in their communities. I knew that if I created a PowerPoint presentation, students would get bored, and “zone out” before the presentation was over, which would mean they would not be reaching their maximum learning potential. To address this, I decided to use exciting activities and stimulating discussion to foster growth among students; I have also integrated Twitter into the presentation. However, I wanted to make a bigger impact by connecting with more students, so I decided to expand my program with schools in other countries, using technology to do so.
With SAFE, I have grown from doing 1 presentation for 9 students in a middle school to doing weekly presentations for 27,000 people in schools that have adopted my program across 5 countries. I realized that in order to make a significant difference, I would be more than a presenter; I would be a friend. So I started to make a personal connection with students in my presentation and used different activities for different age groups. Each presentation was recorded with my iPad in a mini studio I set up in my basement. Because of technology, students are not only more engaged, but actually interested in learning. This hunger for knowledge that students have has really been the fuel in the expansion of SAFE.
If you had asked me 1 year ago if SAFE would ever be what it is today, I would have said you were crazy. Now, a year after its initiation, I am overjoyed that I have the opportunity to reach students each week and help shape who they will grow up to be. It makes me even happier to know that they actually care about learning and that they are able to do so in an environment that is applicable to their lives. I have grown quite a bit this past year. I have learned the importance of taking the valuable time that life has given us, and doing something incredible that not only means something to you, but will also help others.
Because of SAFE, I was recently given the incredible opportunity to present at a Tedx Event in Madrid, Spain; I was stunned when I got invited to do 4 more talks in subsequent months. My hope is that other kids may get inspired to do good for the world, and recognize that they too can achieve their dreams. I want to remind them that if they have a passion for something, they should follow it, no matter what obstacles they may face. I would love to share ideas about my experiences as well as yours with technology in education. I always love hearing other’s comments on SAFE or about their projects as well. I would love to connect with you on LinkedIn and collaborate with you on your project. You can follow me on Twitter at @iNik2 and learn more about the program at my blog www.nikhilthakkar.wordpress.com. Hope to talk to you soon.
- Nikhil Thakkar
BHS Class of 2014