Sridevi Krothapalli: Indian-American teen brings joy to hospital kids through art magazine
Compiled by: Team GI Youth
(August 11, 2023) Kahani, which translates to storytelling, has found its place in hospitals in Chicago and other parts of the US. A digital arts and literary magazine that’s distributed to children’s hospitals for kindergarten to middle-school-age patients is the brainchild of Sridevi Krothapalli who turned her passion for art into a project. Growing up, she was drawn to watercolours and would end up making art that comforted her. Over the years, her interest expanded into the realm of digital art and drawing, and in 2020, she turned his love into a student-led nonprofit Kahani. Three years into it, the 17-year-old made it to Teen Vogue’s annual 21 Under 21 list of changemakers, influencers, activists, and artists who are making an impact.
“My mission with Kahani includes helping distribute art and literary magazines for kids in hospitals across the USA to inspire creativity,” she said in an interview. The 17-year-old senior at Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA), who aspires to make a career in advocacy and healthcare, has always been keen to give back to the community and “help make an impact.”
The digital magazine with its vibrant artwork, engaging stories, and playful poems, aims to ignite creativity among children during their hospital stay.
“So, they can experience outside of the hospital that gives them the opportunity to engage with this art because that’s what it’s all about. Getting children to play their own role and honestly interpret it anywhere they are,” she added. For this Indian American teen, who originally hails from Telangana, kindness, and love have served as guiding influences, encouraging her to speak from the heart and inspire positive transformation.
In these years, Kahani has been distributed in hospitals across the US including Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, Advocate Children’s Hospital in Park Ridge, Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, and Children’s of Mississippi in Jackson. The staff and parents permit patients to access the magazine through tablets, digital devices, as well as in-house closed-circuit televisions, and websites. The influence of Kahani at Riley Hospital for Children was recently highlighted by an Indiana CBS affiliate station. A hospital spokesperson remarked that the magazine serves as a wonderful illustration of children receiving support from individuals who may be strangers to them. Such literary and artistic content helps create an opportunity for normalisation in the hospital.
Published twice a year, the magazine consists of 20 pages that encompass a diverse array of artistic expressions including poetry, short stories, paintings, and photography. Accompanying the artwork are descriptive captions, and within each edition, there are thought-provoking journaling prompts. “We try to make it as artistically compelling as possible — the most fun things that we can think of and mostly interesting things that you’d see in a nature book. But instead, it’s made by students not so far away,” she told Chicago Tribune.
Witnessing many individuals in her family and community facing illnesses that required them to visit nearby children’s hospitals prompted her to develop a form of creative arts therapy and an initiative tailored to their benefit. Recognising the scarcity of resources crafted by students specifically for this hospital-bound population, she aimed to establish a student-driven endeavour — a collective effort where all the donated creations are the result of students’ artistic endeavours.
The teenager, who is an active member of IMSA’s arts and literary magazine, Heliotrope, produces Kahani with the help of half a dozen people that include her family, friends, and IMSA students. She serves as a designer, artist, and writer, and also oversees outreach and promotion.
Along with her passion for art, she is a physics pro who wants to make scientific discoveries that would make a difference in the world. Moreover, she was selected to attend the Stanford Program for Inspiring the Next Generation of Women in Physics. “By applying coding skills to physics-based projects in environmental engineering and tutoring other students in physics-oriented topics in my community, I realized my ambition to break the gender gap in the field of physics and mathematics,” she told Teen Vogue.
When she is not studying algorithms or working on Kahani, Sridevi loves playing tennis or indulges in filmmaking. Moreover, she holds the position of Regional Board President for the nonprofit organization International Youth Tobacco Control in Illinois wherein she coordinates educational events, establishes connections with fellow tobacco control organisations in the state, and designs informative infographics and digital posters addressing tobacco usage for school districts across the region. “Everything that I do falls under the umbrella of what I’m interested in — the umbrella of public health crises that affect kids’ well-being.”