Localish is delighted to share that 13 incredible youth leaders have been named Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award Honorees, celebrating young individuals who have gone above and beyond for their communities in sports-related causes. Below are the achievements of Viva Kreis, Sandhya Mahesh, and Rishan Patel, three of this year's honorees (left to right):
- Viva Kreis is a three-sport high school varsity athlete and a published writer, best known for her children's book called "She Did That!?" about inspiring female athletes such as Billie Jean King. Viva created the 'Sock It to Homelessness' initiative, which donated more than 5,000 pair of socks for homeless veterans in Pennsylvania. Having experienced considerable inequalities in sports, Viva strongly believes in the power of representation and hopes that the Award will enable her to further her education to become a journalist and broadcaster for women's sports.
- Sandhya Mahesh is a coach at SkateTherapy, a program encouraging children with disabilities to skate as a form of physical therapy. Her goals are to create better representation and a more inclusive environment for people with disabilities, and to provide skate opportunities for the underserved populous. Sandhya hopes the Award will help unlock the potential of disabled athletes and inspire the world to think differently about the power of disabled people.
- Rishan Patel is one of three National Honorees and is the founder and CEO of the sports equity nonprofit, Alley-Oop Kids and its legacy project Lending Lockers, which installs free-of-charge equipment lockers at under-resourced schools. Lending Lockers have been installed at over 100 locations worldwide, from Menlo to Mumbai, serving over 70,000 underserved youths. Rishan hopes that the Award will become a catalyst for youth activists to continue fighting for sports equity and lead change in their respective communities.
The Billie Jean King Youth Leadership Award celebrates the sports icon's commitment to leadership and service, honoring high school and college-aged students who use sports to improve their communities. Every recipient gets a college scholarship or can direct a grant to their chosen charity. Tune in to the ESPYS on ABC, July 12.