15-year-old innovator Vinisha Umashankar represented India as a Batonbearer after being selected by the University of Birmingham, official partner of the Queen’s Baton Relay. Her love for science was ignited at the age of five when her parents gifted her an encyclopaedia.
Despite only been in Grade 10, Vinisha has already made huge contributions to the scientific community and to the fight against climate change. At the age of 12, Vinisha invented a mobile, solar powered ironing cart. Using solar panels to power her invention, it eliminates the need for the traditionally used charcoal, as well as batteries that the solar panels can charge up. Although there’s over 300 sunny days a year in India, the batteries offer a contingency plan and mean ironing vendors can work into the night and sell stored energy to increase their earnings.
Reducing the use of charcoal is extremely beneficial as its uses have been linked to air pollution, deforestation, climate change, as well as some serious illnesses. This is pertinent in Vinisha’s home country, India, where 22 of the 30 most polluted cities in the world are located.
Vinisha has been widely recognised for her invention and won the Child’s Climate Prize in 2020, Earth Day Network ‘Rising Star’ award, and Dr. Pradeep P. Thevannoor Innovation Award. She was also the youngest nominee for the Earth Shot Prize, which was launched by His Royal Highness, Prince William.
Vinisha was invited to speak at the United Nations Climate Change conference COP26 by Prince William. In her speech the young innovator stressed the need for people to “stop talking and start doing”, with a particular focus on building a new future with clean air and oceans with zero-waste.
Vinisha’s amazing story has made her a figure of inspiration around the world. After identifying the issues caused by coal-powered irons, the young innovator took on the challenge of finding a new solution to the problem, which has greatly benefitted people not just in her community, but in the global community. Vinisha’s dedication to her community and the environment perfectly encapsulates the values of Batonbearers and the Queen’s Baton Relay.