An Indian-American teenager has won a national volunteer award for helping visually impaired people. The 13-year-old boy from San Jose, California, was named among the top 10 youth volunteers for the year 2015 during the 20th annual Prudential Spirit of Community Awards ceremony at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Raghav Ganesh was selected from among nearly 33,000 youth volunteers from across the nation. Ganesh received the title of National Honoree, a cash prize of $5,000 and an engraved gold medallion.
In addition, the teenager received a crystal trophy to be put up on display at his school and a $5,000 grant for a nonprofit organization of his choice. The grant is funded by the Prudential Foundation.
A seventh-grader at the Joaquin Miller Middle School, Ganesh designed a device that detects objects beyond the reach of the white canes used by many blind people. A video on the everyday challenges faced by visually impaired people inspired Ganesh to create it.
“I saw how, despite being used for several centuries, the white cane does not provide users enough information about their environment," said Ganesh, reported the American Bazaar. "I also saw why many high-tech alternatives are not meeting the needs of visually challenged folks.”
Seventeen-year-old Kenzie Hall was the other honoree from California. Two youth volunteers from each state and the District of Columbia were honored at the awards ceremony.
Ganesh has successfully obtained a grant to build multiple copies of his device. He hopes to receive an open patent for his innovation. Ganesh's ultimate vision is to enable organizations for the blind to make and distribute the device themselves.
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