Technology helps Central teen merge passions
Last updated 6/21/2023 at 2:45pm | View PDF
Both of Samiksha Gupta's parents work in computer science. But it wasn't until she took a class in the subject that Gupta discovered her own fascination with the field and its application to what she considers two of her greatest passions - exercise and giving to her community.
"You could create an entirely different world using this language," Gupta said of the computer coding she learned and used to create an app that allows users to link a commitment to fitness to community service.
Gupta's app, WeLevitate, is a free tool that lets the user match their fitness goals to the promise of a charitable contribution when that goal is met. App, users can financially support their favorite charities while running, doing yoga or playing their favorite sport. New activities are regularly being added, Gupta said.
After creating a goal, the WeLevitate user can enter their activity manually or use a fitness tracker to track their progress. Eventually, she hopes to add features that allow users to form teams, share their progress with friends or challenge one another.
Gupta came up with the idea for WeLevitate during the COVID-19 lockdown of 2020. Unable to practice badminton with her team or to continue her work at the Hinsdale food pantry, she longed for a way to keep active while also helping her community. Three years after development of the app began, WeLevitate is now available for Apple and Android products.
"There were definitely ups and downs throughout the entire journey," Gupta said.
The biggest obstacle so far, she said, has been gaining the participation of nonprofits. After many weeks spent contacting dozens of charities, Gupta finally received the first positive RSVP from PERIOD. Since Gupta serves as public relations manager of the Hinsdale Central chapter of PERIOD, the organization that provides menstrual products to people in need is close to her heart. She hopes to see many other nonprofits join WeLevitate soon.
Gupta's college search is in full swing, with visits to universities in the Midwest and the east coast, including Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Wherever her college search takes her, Gupta plans to study computer science and business and to one day use her education to create her own nonprofit organization.
Community service isn't just something Gupta does to complete her college resume. Volunteering is something she has always done and something that she plans to continue throughout her life. In May of this year, she was honored for that service with the Ambassador Award from the United Nations Association of the U.S.A..
"I am thrilled," Gupta said of the recognition.
She will spend the last weeks before the start of senior year breaking in her newly obtained driver's license, traveling to Canada with her family and working toward her own MyLevitate goal of 15 miles walked each week. But the highlight of her summer already has happened, said Gupta, who attended a Taylor Swift concert earlier this month in Detroit.
"It was the best weekend of my life," she said.
- story by Sandy Illian Bosch, photo by Jim Slonoff