Harker Aquila

Upper school hosts Hi5 Youth Fundraiser

Zachary+Wong+%28right%29+dribbles+past+an+opposing+defender+as+Maria+Vazhaeparambil+%2810%29%2C+%2380%2C+sets+a+screen.+Seven+Harker+high-schoolers+played+together+on+one+of+the+eight+teams+in+the+tournament%3A+seniors+Prameela+Kottapalli%2C+Akhila+Ramigiri+and+Zach+Wong%3B+juniors+Haley+Arena%2C+Kaidi+Dai+and+Sara+Lynn+Sullivan%3B+and+sophomore+Maria+Vazhaeparambil.+%0A
Zachary Wong (right) dribbles past an opposing defender as Maria Vazhaeparambil (10), #80, sets a screen. Seven Harker high-schoolers played together on one of the eight teams in the tournament: seniors Prameela Kottapalli, Akhila Ramigiri and Zach Wong; juniors Haley Arena, Kaidi Dai and Sara Lynn Sullivan; and sophomore Maria Vazhaeparambil.

Zachary Wong (right) dribbles past an opposing defender as Maria Vazhaeparambil (10), #80, sets a screen. Seven Harker high-schoolers played together on one of the eight teams in the tournament: seniors Prameela Kottapalli, Akhila Ramigiri and Zach Wong; juniors Haley Arena, Kaidi Dai and Sara Lynn Sullivan; and sophomore Maria Vazhaeparambil.

Anna Vazhaeparambil

Anna Vazhaeparambil

Zachary Wong (right) dribbles past an opposing defender as Maria Vazhaeparambil (10), #80, sets a screen. Seven Harker high-schoolers played together on one of the eight teams in the tournament: seniors Prameela Kottapalli, Akhila Ramigiri and Zach Wong; juniors Haley Arena, Kaidi Dai and Sara Lynn Sullivan; and sophomore Maria Vazhaeparambil.

by Anna Vazhaeparambil, Reporter

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An India-based non-profit group hosted a basketball event at Harker last weekend to spread awareness of the organization among local high schoolers.

In an effort to broaden their reach to America, the Hi5 Youth Foundation held their first event in the U.S. to gauge local interest in the organization and in the work it is doing. Students from various schools in the Bay Area participated in a co-ed basketball tournament, as well as other side activities like free-throw or three-point shooting competitions.

The Hi5 Foundation gives underprivileged children in Mumbai access to free basketball coaching and the opportunity to learn valuable life skills for their futures. Its motto, “to spread hopes through hoops,” summarizes co-founders R. Sundar, Usha Sundar and P. Ramaswamy’s goal of using sports to instill life skills and open more opportunities for a better future.

“[The children in India are] as competitive as you are here, as good as you are here,” Usha Sundar, 54, said. “They have the same kind of talent, except that they are the other side of the world in the poverty line. And we want them to get the opportunity to come up in life, go to college and find a job or become players or whatever they’re aspirations are.”

Seven Harker high-schoolers played together on one of the eight teams in the tournament: seniors Prameela Kottapalli, Akhila Ramigiri and Zach Wong; juniors Haley Arena, Kaidi Dai and Sara Lynn Sullivan; and sophomore Maria Vazhaeparambil.

They played two games and, although they lost both, Zach notes that they were happy to support Hi5 and play for charity.

“I was really excited about [the tournament] because I haven’t played recreational basketball in three years,” he said. “It was fun because there were spectators, and I was playing with people that I wish I could play with more.”

Anna Vazhaeparambil
Maria Vazhaeparambil (10) shoots a free throw as her teammates watch on. Since its establishment in 2015, Hi5 has assisted over 1200 children across 15 centers in India.

Akhila, who is also a volunteer at Hi5, helped with the preparations for the event and communications with Harker about logistics.

“I had a great experience,” she said. “I think one of the reasons I was working so hard on this was I had the opportunity over the summer to go to India for a week and interact with the kids there. So seeing that really, really motivated me to do something about it here.”

Since its establishment in 2015, Hi5 has assisted over 1200 children across 15 centers in India. The team hopes that they can help even more by involving youth in the United States and encourage them to reach out to the program and visibly see what a difference they can make by helping fellow students.

“Start a community in your school for Hi5,” Radhika Padmanabhan, a member of the Hi5 strategic committee, said. “Start planning what events you want, what your goals are and what your effort is. Have events like this, and we will help you all, guide and provide you the infrastructure, raise funds and interact with the children there and see a plan [for] over four years.”

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Upper school hosts Hi5 Youth Fundraiser