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Norwood - Local Town Pages

The Girls Who Care Club

Aayushi Chauhan, Kusumita Savaram, Sana Dhillon, Angel Shah,
Gauri Loomba and Poonan Loombaa

By Donna Lane
If you thought our young people were sitting around playing video games during the pandemic, think again. Girls Who Care was established by Sana Dhillon in August of 2020 as an environmental sustainability club to educate, empower, and activate youth to help the communities they live in. Sana reached out to her friends, all of whom have a passion for environmental sustainability, and asked if they would be interested in forming a club that would help to make a difference in each of their communities, recognizing the challenges we are facing with climate change and trying to make our planet more “green.”


These six young women, all of Indian heritage, enthusiastically agreed to work together and get involved in local projects. All had been working individually toward sustainability. They would now pool their collective ideas and talents to educate, inspire, and empower other youth to action.
Shillon’s first idea was to have recycling containers placed at all of the outdoor restaurant areas in town; however, some things couldn’t be recycled because of the grease, so the group decided to focus on the educational aspects of sustainability via Zoom presentations. It was especially difficult during the pandemic to do some of the things they wanted to do so they used technology as a vehicle to help get their message out. They targeted students younger than themselves, believing these youngsters would help to educate their parents to make changes.
They also created a presentation, with each girl presenting a topic: composting, microplastics, ocean pollution, reducing your carbon footprint, and products that will help the environment, to enhance their program. One of the statistics used in the composting segment is that Norwood residents place 1,100 tons of food waste in the trash each year, which costs the town $200,000/year. (We pay by the pound for trash pickup.) By composting food waste rather than putting it in the trash, the money could be used more productively for the benefit of residents; and, the compost can be used to enrich soils depleted by erosion, food, or other plant production.
The girls’ first effort was to reach out to their local Indian School, which each of them attended to learn about their Indian heritage, culture, and languages. They presented their program via Zoom showing students how they can use resources in the environment responsibly so that future generations can also use these resources if they want to.
Who are these passionate, caring young women? Sana Dhillon is a sophomore at Ursaline Academy where she is also a member of her school’s Green Club. A Norwood resident, she has volunteered with the Charles River Cleanup organization for a number of years, as well as the Big Help for Education group, a non-profit organization that helps raise money for education in India – improving education, building schools, and the like.
Kusumita Savaram is a Junior at Foxboro Regional Charter School and a resident of North Attleboro. She leads a chapter of the Young Democrats Club in Foxboro, working on policy and voter education. She also works with the Sunrise Movement in Boston, an organization that aims to reduce or eliminate all fossil fuels and non-renewable energy sources across the country (a.k.a. The Green New Deal), as well as several others.
Gauri Loomba is a Junior at Norwood High School. She is currently the vice president of the Environmental Youth Club (soon to be president), has assisted with many local cleanups, and partnered with Treeplenish, a non-profit run by Harvard students to plant hundreds of trees in Norwood at the High School and a number of other sites. Loomba is active in the Norwood Sustainability Commission, serving as their high school advisor, and is working with the Town on a plastic bag ban. She is an activist for the Ocean Heroes, a non-profit program involving youth that “want to act to protect our oceans for people and creatures today and for generations to come.” The program teaches youth how to be activists in their own communities.
Poonan Loomba, the youngest member of the group, is a 7th grade student at the Coakley Middle School. She is also an Ocean Heroes activist, a member of the National Junior Honor Society, and a well-spoken advocate for environmental sustainability. She also works with Big Help for Education.
Angel Shah is a Junior at Walpole Senior High School and a member of its student council. She also performs a lot of local community work with the Town of Walpole and outreach to residents of the community.
Last, but certainly not least, is Aayushi Chauhan of Norwood who is a freshman at Boston Trinity Academy. Chauhan is a member of her school’s Green Club and is working on social justice and special needs outreach, and helping to educate students in her school about climate change.
To date, the club has presented to 150 students. Their message is that everyone can make a difference – even if it’s just by doing one small thing. The Girls Who Care emphasize that the students are the ambassadors of tomorrow; the club gives them the tools and knowledge so they can spread the word.
The girls have also spread their message to relatives and friends in India. All of the girls have traveled to the home of their ancestor at least once.
“There’s a lot of pollution and climate change in India and the people seem to think it’s normal,” Poonan said. “I honestly don’t think that’s the case. If we teach people who are from there we can help them to see and realize the change they can make – even if it’s very small.”
“Exactly, and they can tell their cousins and family members about the presentation we gave to them and how they can make a difference in their village or wherever they live in India,” Dhillon agreed.
Their mission statement?
“It’s less a statement and more about the three main things we’re focused on: advocate, educate, and empower; those are the three ways we’ve been trying to focus our environmental action in the community,” Kusumita stated.
It’s not easy to form a new group, but for these young women their similar concerns made it seem easy.
“We knew [it would be a lot of work, but] we could also make it fun by working together because we’re all friends,” Dhillon said.
The young Poonan chimed in with her rationale for joining.
“The realization of what’s going on in the real world ... opening your eyes and seeing it all, and coming to the realization that you want to make a difference ... it resonated with me,” Poonan said.
“It’s not just us,” Kusumita interjected. “Our entire generation as a whole has an increased sense of civic duty. I think part of that fact is that we have access to so many resources today and so much information that it’s a lot harder to turn away from an issue, because you have to face it, because you have to see all these pictures, and you have to speak with people who have experience with it.”
The pandemic helped to heighten the group’s sense of responsibility.  Kusumita said it best.
“The pandemic really just gave us the space to actually realize that we don’t have to just sit around ... we don’t have to accept things the way they are ... we have the time and the resources to actually do something,” Kusumita stated.
And they are doing something! In addition to doing Zoom presentations of their education program, the girls are raising funds to help ocean conservation efforts. Because of the pandemic, they couldn’t do some of the usual fundraisers. Instead, they have created a magnet that depicts their sustainability initiative with graphic symbols of composting, recycling, clean water, no chemicals, no plastics, renewable energy, and its central theme: save the world. They have been offering these magnets for a donation of $5 each – more if you can, less if you can’t – to those who want to help with their mission. They are close to reaching their first goal of $500 which they plan to give to the New England Aquarium for their ocean conservation efforts.
If you would like to help this group of talented young citizens who are advocating for environmental sustainability, you can contact them at [email protected] or on Instagram at girlswhocare_.