Meet Priya Who Is Building A Healthier Tomorrow For Our Kids
Health is a concept we imbibe after we have immensely mistreated our bodies and it couldn't take it anymore from us. But Priya Prakash is driving the movement across India to address this lackadaisical and reactionary attitude towards adopting a healthy lifestyle. Something we do after falling ill or not something to prevent it.
Priya Prakash is a healthcare entrepreneur and the Founder and CEO of HealthSetGo, India's largest healthcare organisation for school with the vision to establish the largest network of health promoting schools in the country.
HealthSetGo currently operates in over 70 cities across India with 85,000 students with it’s flagship program CARE.
Additionally, she is a Global Shaper with The World Economic Forum, taking up many socially impactful projects for rural India. A Tedx Speaker, Crossfit L1 Trainer , and an avid health blogger with a passion for Olympic Weightlifting. She was featured in the National Issue Of India Today, January 2017, amongst 21 Men and Women nationwide in the article 'Doing Good In A World Gone Bad’.
Priya tells us why it is important to imbibe the values of health right in our children from the very beginning.
My journey and how it seeded the idea of Health Set Go
I was born an obese baby and stayed overweight till well into a few years ago. The definition of a healthy child in India, as you know, is someone who’s from a ‘well fed’ family ; a notion, that greatly affected my childhood!
I never played a sport in my life. I got bullied a lot, cried a lot after looking in the mirror. My self esteem dropped to an all time low in my childhood. To overcome the humiliation, as a teenager I tried to starve myself and then binge on food. A treacherous cycle that never seemed to end. I was in an emotionally abusive relationship with my body and I didn’t even know it. Until I decided to change it all. As the mentally and physically healthy woman today, I have a healthy body weight and I can lift 200 pounds off the Floor, run 15Kms without stopping and I love my body.
If I knew what I know now, I could’ve prevented years of damage to my body and more importantly, my mind. It was then I realised that my life’s mission would be to ensure that everyone knows what I do, that everyone is empowered, aware and can take action from an early age.
Building health from a tender age
HealthSetGo started about 2.5 years ago in my bedroom and since then it has been a constant processes of evolution. Everything we have done till date has been with one mindset : how can we impact the millions of students in thousands of schools in India in an impactful way. The thing about starting something that has never been done before is that it can be a boon and a bain. The tagline at HealthSetGo is ‘The benchmark for healthy schools’ because we are building the benchmark!
The misconception surrounding health in our society
What shocked me through my own journey was how starkly clueless everyone else was : Including my family, my peers, my teachers. I had to guide myself and do my own research to get where I am today. I was lucky enough to find a coach and be immersed into an active environment which encouraged me to change my entire lifestyle. Today we’re living in a world where if anyone wants to be healthy : they have to fight constant distraction and stimuli and I’m afraid that many people fail at doing that . They end up frustrated and in hospitals with chronic diseases.
Hospitals were overflowing with patients whose diseases could easily have been prevented if they only led a healthy lifestyle.
I would like to make a distinction clearly between sickcare and healthcare which according to me is a distinction that Nobody is making. Falling sick, being afflicted with a chronic condition and getting medication for it is not an act of health. An act of health is preventive. From the beginning , we learn how to walk, talk ; we learn the alphabet , physics , math ; but where is the fundamental vital education of how to take care of ourselves and be healthy? It isn’t there throughout the education system. I would definitely say that’s the biggest reason.
With HealthSetGo the idea is not to cure the broken, but to prevent in those who haven’t succumbed to the ill effects of bad health : children! In the end it all boils down to our daily habits and behaviour towards food. With children healthy habits are easier to develop at school through health education. With our engaging content for Schools via the HealthSetGo CARE program we do just that.
We curate health content age wise for students. To apprise the parents of their child’s health, HealthSetGo conducts a comprehensive health assessment at School for each child to monitor their growth and development. Any early signs of disease are quickly caught on during these assessments and parents are empowered to take action.
Our health experts personally give a tele consultation to each and every parent to ensure that we resolve all their queries and help their children get the care they need. Since everything is automated, Parents can access their child’s medical reports at any time at the click of a button.Our school wide health reports also help schools plan targeted, data driven interventions at School.
Sometime’s it’s difficult to convince schools that health is an aspect but I’m extremely happy that it has now become something that schools owners are seriously considering due to demand from parents and the increasing awareness levels! Today we operate across the country in 70 cities!
The first awareness point comes with parents when we send them their child’s health reports. Many Parents are not aware of the issues that their children are undergoing and it’s an eye opening experience for them talking to our experts about their child’s health. In fact, parents are encouraged to call us year round for any queries!
As stated earlier, we create engaging content to educate the Students about health in the classrooms, but the interesting part about that is that the cards on which students are asked to do their projects have tips and suggestions for parents at home on how to be healthy!
Every time the students take them back home, the parents get educated as well! We constantly generate content for Parents which is shared via newsletters.
On the occasions of World Health Days , we conduct sessions region wise for Parents with our empanelled Medical professionals. These occasions include : World Immunisation Week , World Health Day , World No Tobacco Day etc. which are observed by the World Health Organisation.
Being an entrepreneur is a 24/7 attitude
Being an entrepreneur for me has been a very emotional journey and each day has made me wiser than the previous day. Any entrepreneur is basically a CEO : Chief Everything Officer! Whether it’s Sales, marketing, finance, product, tech, ops : you have to get your hands dirty in all areas.
As the team has grown of course, it becomes more management and delegation and you have to focus on what’s the 5 year plan for the organisation. It’s more of the mindset than anything that grows : your organisation , your work and your life basically are the same thing and the boundaries are very blurry if any.
My good idea of a weekend now is spending time by myself planning new products for HealthSetGo and it does NOT seem like work! It’s a 24/7 attitude.