NORMALIZING TABOO TOPICS
This 18-year-old is a SOCIAL ENTREPRENEUR, youth changemaker, mentor and poet. PANELIST FOR BUSINESS BLASTERS (BY GOVT. OF DELHI), SHE is the CEO OF BREAK THE ICE, AN ORGANIZATION WORKING TOWARDS TALKING ABOUT ALL THINGS TABOO AND CREATING AN ENLIGHTENED YOUTH COMMUNITY.
Palakh Khanna SPEAKS ABOUT HER JOURNEY TO HASINI LAKSHMINARAYANAN, FOUNDER OF THE FIRST STEP, A YOUTUBE CHANNEL THAT FEATURES INTERVIEWS OF YOUNG ACHIEVERS
Tell us about your journey and the mission you have.
My journey from a student and an 18-year-old undergraduate to a social entrepreneur and a youth change maker has been amazing, and at the same time, quite enlightening and I’m very grateful to get the support of not only prominent individuals, but my family, organizations, and even young change-makers like yourself. I have always wanted to create change from the time I was 10. Initially, my efforts were restricted to protecting the environment. Then, it was during the pandemic that I overheard a conversation between my mom and my domestic help where she was hesitating to talk about something as basic, as natural as menstruation. And that’s when I realized that, in order to change an individual’s mindset, the society’s mindset needs to be changed and I opened Break.The.Ice with this mission in mind. Recently, I was invited as a panelist and a mentor for the Business Blasters program, and it has truly been an honor!
Tell us about your organization Break The Ice.
Break the ice is an international youth organization working towards discussing all things taboo and helping in creating an enlightened global youth community. We aim at creating a community where there is open dialogue and discussion, where everyone can talk about anything that they want without any judgment and hesitation, even anonymously, if they want to, and we do believe that we have started that chain of enlightenment by reaching 16,000+ individuals and by expanding the team to 50+ young changemakers, across 10+ countries, all across the world. We are a UN SDSN youth member organization and currently, we are working with the Crimson Youth Entrepreneurship Society, a Harvard initiative.
Why did you want to educate people to feel free to talk about them, especially in a global level?
I want society to understand that taboo topic and stigmatized topics need to be talked about because they are important. Unless and until we talk about them, they are simply being pushed under a carpet of ignorance and we are not growing as a community, as a society, and as a global space in itself. So, I definitely feel like we need to talk about them for society’s development, as well as our personal development.
Why do you support SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) number four (Quality Education)?
SDG 4 talks about providing quality education to everyone. I believe it’s the base to achieve all the other SDGs. Unless people are educated, they won’t be able to take conscious actions. If I take an example, SDG 1, i.e., No Poverty, will not be fulfilled until people are educated and they work towards fulfilling the SDG. It is the same case with other SDGs including SDG 5 i.e., gender equality as well as SDG 13 i.e., climate change. So, I believe that education and providing quality education is the base for creating a better world.
Tell us about your experience in The Cohort Collective Program.
The Cohort Collective program was a highly selective program where they taught us about career development as well as personality development. I was truly honored to be the youngest cohort of the program and be amongst the eight people selected out of a pool of hundred-plus applicants. It’s a year-long program where we get ongoing support.
What are your future plans from a career perspective?
I love Psychology and English and I wish to explore them as career options. I am also inclined to the UN’s work and wish to be associated with them, in whichever capacity possible. Along with my team, I want to grow to Break the Ice to a level where we become a global safe space and explore that as a career option as well.
Can you please throw some light on your other projects as well?
Along with Break The Ice, I am a mentor under the Desh ka Mentor program by the Govt. of India. I am also working with GirlUp India as a cohort member. Along with this, I am also a global lead ambassador for climate change, a tutor for underprivileged children, and a mentor.
Who is your inspiration?
It would definitely be my mom. She has always supported me in every venture of mine. Whether it was helping me, working with me till night, or just the confidence that she has given me, she is truly the pillar of support in my life. Even when I thought of opening Break.The.Ice, was the one who motivated me and encouraged me to give action on my idea.
How do you manage your time for studies and your work?
I try to keep to-lists for all the work I have. They usually work well for me and give me enough time to relax as well. Along with that, I try to finish my work well before the deadline so that it doesn’t pile up in the end. At times, I do have periods of procrastination but it also helps me understand how well I work under pressure.
What are your other hobbies?
I love to dance. I’m a classically trained dancer and I also love to write. Whether it’s short stories or poems, I love to write and express my thoughts and my emotions on paper. I’ve actually been published as a poet which is an achievement I’m very proud of.
What is something about society that you wish to change?
I wish to be in a society where equality prevails. I want to erase every bias which exists in society and eradicate the term discrimination as well as stigmatization.
The First Step book is all about young achievers and their real-life stories. You can order your copy of the book through the following link: