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Student Rohan Chandra plans to distribute earthquake kits.

FREMONT -- With talk of a large earthquake hitting the Bay Area within the next 30 years, one Fremont teenager wants to make sure no one gets left in the dark.

Rohan Chandra, 15, looked around his community and saw the diversity -- and the need for such information to reach a wide audience.

As one of 10 first-place winners from across the country to receive a $2,500 "Be Big In Your Community" grant, he will create earthquake kits for seniors, with a twist.

"The differentiation between my earthquake kit and the ones being distributed right now is that they would be in different languages," Rohan said. "Due to many immigrants coming, they might not know English properly or might not know what's going on with the earthquake."

The kits would include items such as a medicine dispenser, a place to write emergency contacts, a flashlight and nonperishable foods. The information booklets would be translated into eight languages: Spanish, Mandarin, Taiwanese, Hindi, Punjabi, Urdu, Farsi and Tagalog.

Rohan will work with a local organization, generationON, to create an overall plan and budget proposal. He hopes to have about 250 kits, ready sometime early next year, that would be distributed to seniors in Fremont for free.

Rohan's was the only entry from California selected out of 30 winners, which included one grand prize, 10 first-place and 19-second place winners.


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Nearly 1,000 entries were submitted to the "Be Big In Your Community" contest, sponsored by publisher Scholastic. The contest encouraged participants of all ages to submit proposals on how to make the world a better place, something Rohan has been committed to since he joined the Boy Scouts in kindergarten.

"I imagine a senior-friendly community -- one that is proactive in supporting our most vulnerable seniors," he wrote in his proposal.

He described his project as "intergenerational," as he plans to involve fellow scouts and community members in assembling and delivering the kits to seniors.

Rohan also hopes to work with businesses that might be able to donate materials so he eventually can expand his project well beyond Fremont.

Despite being committed to spreading the word on emergency preparedness, he said he had a backup plan.

"I'm really into music, so I was thinking about possibly doing something with music and seniors or just music and the community," he said. "I actually started playing the trumpet and singing for seniors recently so (I was thinking about doing) music therapy for seniors or going to hospitals."

Rohan started playing the trumpet last year and has been visiting retirement homes around the Bay Area. He also has played the clarinet for five years and the piano for 10 years.

Currently a sophomore at the Harker School in San Jose, Rohan has some time before going to college but said he probably would pursue a major in math or science rather than the humanities.

"But I definitely want to continue doing community service throughout my whole life because it's an important thing to do," he said. "There are a lot of people out there who are less privileged."

Contact Kimberly Chua at 510-293-2463. Follow her at Twitter.com/kimberlyachua.

How you can help
If you are interested in volunteering or sending donations, e-mail Rohan Chandra at rcseniorkits.fremont@gmail.com.