This article originally appeared in the summer 2014 Harker Quarterly.
After being diagnosed her freshman year with hypothyroidism – a disorder in which the thyroid gland fails to produce sufficient thyroid hormone, causing fatigue, lack of focus and other symptoms – Samantha Madala, now grade 11, became determined to help prevent health problems from interfering with children’s education.
To that end, Madala founded Healthy Scholars last year to raise awareness of health issues that could stymie education. In December, Madala and her team trekked to Varni, India, to perform screenings for medical problems that could be obstacles to learning. Healthy Scholars worked with organizations in India, including the Lions Club, NICE Hospital and LEAD Foundation, to offer blood pressure tests, individual medical consultations, dental exams, vision and hearing tests and more to nearly 600 schoolchildren.
That same month, Healthy Scholars kicked off a fundraising effort, raising nearly $4,000 via fundraising website Crowdrise. An additional $25,000 donation enabled Healthy Scholars to stage more screenings. Madala is planning another trip to Varni in early June. Stateside efforts are also on the agenda. “We also aim to hold a similar health screening camp for at-risk Native American youth in Montana,” she said.