Bianca Tiwari and Roza Shaikh, juniors at Bedford High School, created their project, Be Heart Smart, in July. Their endeavor educates young people in low-income communities in both Massachusetts and Guyana about heart health, the importance of taking control of their health, and making healthy decisions.
Bianca and Roza were inspired to start Be Heart Smart because heart failures are the most common cause of death worldwide. This harsh reality is very personal because many members of Bianca’s family have suffered heart failures. Bianca’s family is from Guyana, a very rural, developing country located in South America.
Through hearing her family’s stories and visiting there herself, Bianca has learned that due to poor eating, a lack of resources and money, and inaccessibility and stigma around going to the doctor, low-income communities across the world disproportionately have more health issues, including heart problems, and have shorter life expectancies.
Roza has family in rural India and is aware of the large discrepancies in their health care system compared to the developed world. Be Heart Smart strives to combat some of these issues through providing young people the power of knowledge, which gives them opportunity and choice to live a healthier life and improve the quality of life for those around them.
Both Bianca and Roza have internships with Dana Farber through 2024 which inspires them to continue to explore the medical field and has fostered a love for helping others in need.
One of their biggest accomplishments so far is traveling to Guyana this past summer. Although Roza was unable to attend, Bianca gave their big presentation at a local orphanage to a group of very young children. The presentation covered topics such as how to take care of their heart throughout stages of life, healthy eating, health care options, and how to set up frequent doctor appointments.
Be Heart Smart’s target audience is young people because they want kids to grow up and have awareness and have time to make changes in their lives.
Bianca and Roza are currently focused on fundraising for creating care packages with medical supplies and sending them to developing countries to make sure they have the basic necessities in hospitals and health care centers.
Be Heart Smart had a booth at Bedford Day. Bianca and Roza said it was a great experience that kick-started fundraising and spread awareness about the project.
There will also be a fundraising event in late October in partnership with the competitive HOSA club that Bianca and Roza are both presidents. They will be selling candy bags, and profits will go towards Breast Cancer awareness, funding for HOSA, and the care packages.
Looking forward, Bianca and Roza want to present to more low-income communities in Massachusetts and spread knowledge to as many people as they can. The heart is vital and controls the health and function of the rest of the body. It is important to inspire children by teaching them about disparities as well as give them power through showing them what options they have.
Other goals include launching their social media presence. They have an Instagram account and are building a website. Through social media, they hope to keep people around the world involved, allowing as many people as possible to take more agency and control over their health.
Bianca and Roza also want to inspire kids to take jobs in health care because as Bianca explained, “These jobs require skills that no one can take away. AI cannot replicate the interpersonal connection, no one can take away their importance.”
These jobs are also rewarding as they get to help people which gives them purpose. Pursuing jobs in the medical field also encourages kids to further their education.
Both Bianca and Roza are very dedicated and invested in their endeavor, and over the next few years, they want Be Heart Smart to grow into a non-profit, such as Doctors without Borders, and make it their career.
Be Heart Smart has gifted them many amazing opportunities and unforgettable memories, and
To Bianca, the orphanage was a culture shock, and a completely different experience that she viewed through new eyes. She described the feeling as shocking because she believed she had a good grasp of the struggles of living in poverty, but the orphanage was more extreme and real than she was expecting. She said a lot of people “don’t understand low income until they see it.”
Overall, Bianca and Roza feel honored to be able to help others and give them powerful knowledge. Be Heart Smart also builds bridges across languages and “has the potential to unite countries that are rural and not visited or communicated with that much.”
Outside of Be Heart Smart, Bianca and Roza participate in DECA (Distributive Education Clubs of America). They both noted how DECA pushes their interest in the business side of Be Heart Smart, and has taught them a lot of the values for their project through DECA’s law and ethics courses, such as communication, trust, empathy, and respect.
Both young women are very passionate about science, anatomy, and helping others and want those interests to be the center focus of their future studies and careers.
Bianca wants to pursue a double degree in business and pre-med and become a cardiovascular surgeon along with expanding Be Heart Smart with Roza.
Roza is interested in studying neuroscience and making connections between the heart and brain as they are both vital organs that are indicators of good health. These endeavors combine both of their interests.
BHS students who are interested in getting involved can join the cardiology club, which is associated with Be Heart Smart and HOSA, also run by Bianca and Roza. The Cardiology Club includes school-based activities, fundraising, and local community presentations with Be Heart Smart.