Northview High School senior Amal Bhatnagar was named a Prudential Spirit of Community National honoree for creating a student organization that provides first-aid kits to people in the United States and overseas who lack access to basic healthcare.
Bhatnagar was selected last month out of 31,000 youth nominated from across the country for the recognition. Prudential honored Bhatnagar for creating a student organization that provided more than a thousand first-aid kits to people in the U.S. and overseas who lack access to basic healthcare.
Bhatnagar struck on the idea three years ago while volunteering at local hospitals. He explained that he saw patients whose innocuous bruises had progressed into infected lacerations because they did not have basic first-aid supplies.
“I realized that a bandage, such a trivial healthcare supply, was so effective and yet so elusive for underserved, powerless populations,” he said.
The answer for Bhatnagar was to form First Aid for All, a nonprofit to fight medical poverty. Bhatnagar co-founded First Aid for All with his brother, Apaar, a Northview sophomore, two years ago with the goal to distribute the first aid kits to people in need.
The concept was simple enough, but the hard part was fundraising and starting a distribution network for the kits. Bhatnagar recruited friends from high school and collected donations from family members and acquaintances.
The teens raised more than $1,000 with the help of the Atlanta Braves baseball team, Bhatnagar distributed over 300 first-aid kits in Atlanta and Athens, Ga. He then organized mission trips to India and Jamaica and delivered first-aid kits and other medical supplies to poverty-stricken areas of those countries.
Since then, First Aid for All has attracted hundreds of middle and high school students from schools across Georgia and Alabama, who raise funds, sort and package medical supplies, make public presentations, and participate in a variety of health-related volunteer projects. Bhatnagar estimated that his initiative had improved access to healthcare for more than 1,100 people so far.
“The one thing I’ve learned about myself is my drive. I would spend literally weeks and months staying up late at night or waking up early to send emails and make phone calls and really communicate with a lot of professionals from across the world,” he said. “Through that, I was able to organize mission trips to India and Jamacia, as well as in Georgia.”
In addition to the trophy, Bhatnagar received a personal award of $5,000, an engraved gold medallion and a $5,000 grant from the Prudential Foundation for a charitable organization of his choice. He also received a silver medallion and $1,000 personal award after being named one of Georgia’s top two youth volunteers of 2017 in February.
Bhatnagar said he has plans to continue First Aid for All after graduating from high school. He hopes in the next few years to distribute first aid kits in all 50 states.