By Sharna Fulton
Imagine a typical high school junior and you might picture a teenager taking classes and spending time with friends. He or she might play sports or belong to a school club as they’re starting to think about a job or where to go to college when they graduate.
What might not come to mind is a young man who spends his free time as a youth advocate, and someone who already has a platform to make a difference on behalf of the Alzheimer’s Association.
But then again, Khidhr Kotaria is not your average 11th grader. A student at Peachtree Ridge High School in Gwinnett County, Khidhr’s family moved from Kenya to the United States four years ago to provide him with a better education. The plan is evidently working. Aside from taking AP classes, he’s already accomplishing goals beyond his years. Khidhr has big plans for the future, too with his sights set on studying neuroscience at Dartmouth, going to med school and eventually becoming a health correspondent for the United Nations.
As for Khidhr’s current mission, he’s helping the fight against Alzheimer’s. After seeing the movie, “Gifted Hands,“ he became interested in neurology. That led him to volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association and create the first youth movement against the leading type of dementia in Georgia. “Adults sometimes recognize youth as being selfish and not having a global perspective,” says Kotaria. “When we’re able to speak out against this disease, it makes an impact. Our voice means a lot.”
Kotaria is so passionate about the mission of the Alzheimer’s Association, he’s recruited fellow students to join his chapter, Youth Movement Against Alzheimer’s Chapter (YMAA). The group recently met with state legislatures at the Alzheimer’s Awareness Day at the State Capitol.
Khidhr started volunteering for the Alzheimer’s Association Georgia Chapter almost a year ago. An articulate and persuasive speaker with a wide vocabulary, he first worked as a community educator to provide individuals with local resources and information about the disease. Today, he serves on the advocacy side as a Youth Advocate for the D07 congressional team.
So, what exactly does he like about being a volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association?
“I enjoy knowing I’m helping to impact society and influence millions of lives that suffer from the disease.”
To learn more about the Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter and how you can make a difference as a volunteer, visit alz.org/georgia.