- 07 Jul 2022
Age is just a number. This is something most of us say when we come across exceptional personalities who achieve unthinkable levels of success too early (or too late!) in life. As humans, we’re conditioned to attach timelines to milestones – educated at 21, married at 25, and so on. But if you step back for a moment, you will come across those rare personalities who are round pegs in square holes. These people are born to lead, inspire, and empower in ways that you and I may never think of. They stand apart from the start, and their stories deserve to be celebrated.
One such personality is Siyona Vikram, a 10-year-old who proves that you’re never too young or old to start something of your own. Siyona inspires change through her podcast – Little Mind Chats, which is designed for children to take responsibility and look at the world differently. She won the Golden Crane Podcast Award 2020 and now features as a speaker and panelist at various international events. Siyona has released over 110+ episodes that inspire children across 81 countries and 1321 cities! Read on to understand how she achieved all of this is literally the first decade of her life!
Siyona, who lives in Bangalore, India, has been a fan of podcasts since she was 7! She was drawn towards this source of information from the start, and the deeper she dove, the more she realized that there was a lack of podcasts that bring reality to children. At the age of 7, Siyona dreamed of a podcast that would expose children to topics that are reality-based, and with assistance from her mother, she launched Little Mind Chats at the age of 8 during the Covid-19 pandemic. Their tagline beautifully summarizes their mission - Minds Are Little, Not Our Thoughts.
Over the last two years, Siyona has covered diverse topics such as health, education, current affairs, and the environment. While her little mind has been exposed to various advanced genres, environmental issues, in particular, grabbed her attention. “There’s room for every one of us to do a lot to save ourselves from the impending disaster on earth,” shared Siyona in an interview with Giving for Good.
Siyona’s inclination toward saving our environment led to her establishing the Little WISE Club, a group that empowers and educates children to be mindful when it comes to our environment and resources. It all started when she heard about 2-day-old turtles dying due to plastics in their tummies. She shares, “After that news, I picked up more research on plastics and oceans. While trying to get my answers to the link between marine life extinctions and plastics, I realized that plastic is the only industry that’s driven by production and not by demand. More than 50% of the plastic produced from fossil fuels is actually used in the Toys and Games industry. No wonder more than 90% of toys in the world are made of plastic.”
Siyona further adds, “More shocking was the number of chemicals that went into making these toys attractive, bendable, and flame-resistant. It's unbelievable. I used the power of my podcast to speak to insiders of the toy industry. Guess what? No one’s doing anything about it. It's an ignored elephant in the room. And so, I devised a method, a solution, a game to tackle this issue in my way.”
‘WISE’ in the Little WISE Club stands for Warriors Inspiring Sustainable Earth. The club addresses 9 UNSDGs (United Nations Sustainable Development Goals). “I conduct collection drives once a month in different centers. Our eco-warriors (children) bring in their old plastic toys and other household plastics. We weigh the plastic they bring in. Children can scan a QR code to log on to my website and register to become an eco-warrior. Every kilo of plastic they bring is worth 100 eco-points. Once they reach certain milestones, they receive coupons to shop sustainably on websites such as brownliving.in, rescript.in, shumee.in and many more to come,” says Siyona. The plastic collected is handed over to a recycler approved by the Pollution Board who makes agricultural pipes using recycled plastic.
Siyona has been running the club for eight months now and the initiative's impact is getting wider each day! “I’m proud to say that it was accepted by children as it is fun and appreciated by parents because their kids consciously started using plastic toys. We’ve managed to collect over 400 kilos of plastic from 450 eco-warriors, mostly children,” said the 10-year-old. Her Little-WISE club is now being accepted by schools, with 4 schools working with her and many more planning to collaborate soon.
Siyona, through her podcasts, interviews industry experts and learns their insights on the toy industry. Moreover, she visits all of her centers on the collection drive day and interacts with eco-warriors. Through posters, she encourages children to visit places that sell truly sustainable products and toys. “Due to my podcast, I have been able to find support from sustainable product companies who agreed to sponsor the eco-warriors of my club,” says Siyona
At the age of 10, Siyona is a leader, a changemaker and a proud eco-warrior! Her resilience is admirable, and with her strong mindset, she holds the potential to lead thousands! “When you realize no one is supporting you in your social cause, never give up. Because one day, the sun will smile on you,” shared Siyona. Apart from podcasting and her constant efforts to go plastic-free, Siyona enjoys reading, painting, knitting and something she calls ‘frequency of happy incidents.’
“Frequency of happy incidents is increasing by the day. Experts, parents, teachers, classmates, eco-warriors, and anyone who comes across my work say I’m doing a good job. It gives me a feeling that I am on the right path, doing my bit for Mother Earth. It’s a joyful journey.”
We’re at a loss of words! Proudly adding to Siyona’s frequency of happy incidents, the team at Giving for Good applauds her efforts, dedication and will to inspire change. She’s a star, and we hope her flame keeps burning bright! Here’s a major shoutout to Siyona’s parents for supporting her all along! Keep shining, champion!
Exclusively written for Giving for Good Foundation by Puja Das
I'm Puja Das, a freelance writer & LinkedIn personal branding specialist. I'm from Assam, and a postgraduate in English. When I'm not busy building impressive personal brands on LinkedIn or writing for my clients, you'll either find me lost in the world of dancing or writing for myself.