Varanika and Loranika Sharma, known as Vara and Lara to their friends and family, are 14-year-old 9th graders in the Math and Science Academy at Ocean Lakes High School. But their hard work doesn't stop when the school day ends.
A few times a month, they're meeting with a group of middle and high school students for the Mayor’s Youth Leaders in Action or MYLA. They create programs in Virginia Beach to serve youth and the community.
“It gives us a chance to meet with other people who have the same interests and they care about the community like we do,” Vara said.
The Sharma twins carve out even more time to take action for the community. They started their own environmental group. They do service projects to bring smiles to the faces of veterans and seniors.
“We work with Atria Senior Center and we hold our Christmas concert there. To see someone other than their family, to see them being entertained, the smile that comes on their faces is so nice,” Lara said.
Last December, they recruited elementary schools to help make nearly 1,000 cards for veterans at the Hampton VA Medical Center.
“We just want them to see that little kids appreciate what they're doing,” Lara said.
They've done all of this since moving to the area a little more than a year ago, which is why NewsChannel 3 and our partner Ynot Italian wanted to surprise them with a Students Taking Action Award.
They received a $100 savings bond, a Students Taking Action medal, a gift card to Ynot Italian and a pizza party.
Nicky Vasquez, the coordinator of MYLA, says one word sums up Lara and Vara.
“Committed. They're so committed. Every opportunity they get through the group, they're always signing up for it,” Vasquez said.
“They are focusing on the right things. When they are compassionate and care for others, those are great qualities to have. We are amazed our children are showing those. We're just really proud of them,” said proud dad, Anil Sharma.