Akhila BandloraWater Challenge Ambassador
Akhila Bandlora, a rising senior, is an environmental activist from Phoenix, Arizona. Growing up in a landlocked state, it was difficult for her to understand the magnitude and severity of water pollution given her lack of exposure to it. However, after doing extensive research on ocean policy and issues for her poetry submission to the art and writing competition held by Bow Seat, she finally grasped our oceans’ devastating state of affairs. In 2018, Akhila won fromthebowseat’s gold award for poetry, and officially began her environmental activism. Her work includes helping organize Arizona’s Youth Climate Strike, serving as a lead organizer for her local chapter of Zero Hour, serving as a Creative Writing Finalist for the Genius Olympiad, participating in Earthecho International’s Water Challenge Ambassador Program, and serving on the 2019 Sea Youth Rise Up delegation. This year, Akhila’s delved deeper into environmental justice, realizing how the pursuit of environmental rights is often synonymous with social and racial justice, and thus has expanded her activism to encompass this phenomena. Further, she believes one of the most effective ways young people can get involved in their community and amplify their activism is through art. To this end, she co-founded and currently co-runs Creative Youth of Arizona, an organization dedicated to providing opportunities and community to creatively motivated teens in Arizona. Likewise, she co-launched Phoenix’s Youth Laureate Poet Laureate Program, in which one teen will serve as a literary ambassador for Phoenix. Akhila also serves on her city’s youth arts and culture council, engaging both her interests in local community building and civic engagement. Although Akhila hasn’t had access to the ocean or other large bodies of water in a physical sense, she acknowledges the collective and geographically indiscriminate action necessary to stop its destruction.