COVID Education Impact: COVID-19 cannot rob you from learning

By Manasa Mantravadi



Time to Read: 6 min

As we approach a weekend that will be filled with virtual graduations, it’s another reminder of something that the coronavirus has taken from us and our children. There’s something about walking onto a stage and receiving a document that signifies your achievement and then walking down from that stage toward what lies ahead. It’s closure and a new beginning in the span of about 100 feet.

I’ve graduated a lot. High School, College, Graduate School, Medical School and most recently, a PopUp business school hosted by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) in partnership with SOURCE River West Entrepreneurship Center. PopUp Business school is a United Kingdom based program that travels the globe offering a free two-week business school for startup hopefuls. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the one in Indianapolis last November. I was nervous, excited and ready to study again. The long path to medicine has certainly prepared me for life-long learning. 

About Ahimsa

Founded by a pediatrician and mom of three

Stainless steel is the only kid-friendly material recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics 

We are guided by a Scientific Advisory Council comprised of environmental and medical experts, guiding us in creating the safest products, following the latest science and promoting policy to protect human health and our planet

Want to know more? Check out our story and our products

COVID Education Impact

The foundation of Ahimsa is based on education, clinical medicine and life experience. I wanted to create a company that was an educational platform that took our conversations with parents from the pediatric office to the kitchen. Ahimsa is an educational platform that comes in the form of super cool stainless steel plates that encourage healthy eating habits in childhood. But in the process of trying to teach others about childhood nutrition, I had to first learn how to create, run and grow a company.

On the job training is essentially what we do in residency. You are a physician - led by another senior teacher and an attending teacher. It’s the passing down of knowledge in real-time. Well ... in entrepreneurship, there is a lot of knowledge to be learned and it is completely “on the job training,” but without a teacher. I was used to curricula, formats, teachers, tests and evaluations of performance. Now, I stood alone without a teacher to figure out product design, regulatory procedures, manufacturing, supply chain, website creation, taxes, business structures, patents … and the list goes on. Now leading a team, together, we are figuring out funding, search engine optimization, marketing, sales funnels … and the list goes on even longer. And we have only just scratched the surface given the infant stage of Ahimsa.

However, each day I wake up eager to learn more. Just as we launched, we entered into one of the most devastating and unpredictable economic and healthcare crises in our world’s history. And somehow I got myself right in the middle of it on all fronts. Caring for sick children in the hospital on the COVID unit - learning along with my fellow physicians in real time about a virus we knew nothing about. Homeschooling our three children - suddenly learning along with my fellow parents about how to be a teacher (and gaining a deeper sense of gratitude and appreciation for teachers). Trying my best to figure out how to overcome a complete disruption of our supply chain as India remains on lockdown - learning along with my fellow business owners.

COVID may have robbed families of milestone events, memories, income and stability, but it cannot take away what we can learn during these times – how we can enhance our knowledge and understanding for when we come out on the other side of all of this. It cannot take away what we can do with our gained knowledge. I am confident we will get through these challenging times because human nature is to learn, absorb and problem solve.

Medicine and business models are already changing as we’ve learned how to improve and create solutions to the problems we are facing in the healthcare and economic crises. We are learning in real-time how human behavior so significantly affects our environment as our skies turn clear from the lack of mass pollution. Social inequality is being highlighted in such bright lights that our nation must recognize the systemic racism that persists in America.

Our graduates will emerge as the innovators, the leaders, the activists and the role models we will one day look to for guidance. This ability and willingness to learn cannot be taken away by COVID. It cannot rob us of the human spirit but rather fuels that spirit to continue learning and motivating us to BE better and DO better.

Alexander Graham Bell put it pretty perfectly when he said, “When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.”

Let’s all continue to look for that open door. Turns out, there are many - so choose your door and “be the change you want to see in the world.” Gandhi has always inspired the core mission and values of Ahimsa. Now more than ever, his words guide us from the darkness to a brighter era ahead of us.

Dr. Manasa Mantravadi

Dr. Manasa Mantravadi

Dr. Manasa Mantravadi is a board-certified pediatrician whose dedication to children’s health drove her to launch Ahimsa, the world's first colorful stainless steel dishes for kids. She was motivated by the American Academy of Pediatrics’ findings on harmful chemicals in plastic affecting children's well-being. Ahimsa has gained widespread recognition and been featured in media outlets such as Parents Magazine, the Today Show, The Oprah Magazine, and more.

Dr. Mantravadi received the esteemed “Physician Mentor of the Year” award at Indiana University School of Medicine in 2019. She was also named a Forbes Next 1000 Entrepreneur in 2021, with her inspiring story showcased on Good Morning America. She serves on the Council for Environmental Health and Climate Change and the Council for School Health at The American Academy of Pediatrics. She represents Ahimsa as a U.S. industry stakeholder on the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) for the Global Plastics Treaty, led by the United Nations Environment Program. Dr. Mantravadi leads Ahimsa's social impact program, The Conscious Cafeteria Project, to reduce carbon emissions and safeguard student health as part of a national pilot of the Clinton Global Initiative.

She is dedicated to educating and empowering people to make healthier, more environmentally friendly choices at mealtime. Her mission remains to advocate for the health of all children and the one planet we will leave behind for them through real policy change within our food system.

Mealtime Essentials from Ahimsa

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should I use stainless steel instead of plastic? Is stainless steel better for health?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a report in July 2018 suggesting ways that families can limit exposure to certain chemicals at mealtime, including “the use of alternatives to plastic, such as glass or stainless steel, when possible.” The report explained that “…some additives are put directly in foods, while “indirect” additives may include chemicals from plastic, glues, dyes, paper, cardboard”. Further, “Children are more sensitive to chemical exposures because they eat and drink more, relative to body weight, than adults do, and are still growing and developing.” While stainless steel items meet the recommendation to avoid plastic products in children, Ahimsa® products have the obvious advantage of not breaking like glass.

Is stainless steel better for the environment than plastic?

According to the Steel Recycling Institute, steel can be recycled over and over and over again without losing its integrity and requires less energy to recycle than to make anew. Most plastic unfortunately ends up in landfills and it is estimated to take 700 years to decompose. Our special coloring process that allows Ahimsa® products to be fully metal is environmentally friendly, so it does not produce toxic run-off into the ecosystem.

Will Ahimsa products break or peel?

No. Our steel is durable, so it won’t break or shatter with everyday use, like glass. And it won’t peel, like other colored stainless steel products you’ve seen. We use a special process that allows the colors to naturally occur in the metal.

Which Ahimsa products are best for my little one(s)?

Our products are meant to last, you can use Ahimsa at ages 1, 8 and 18! We thoughtfully design our products to be safe for little ones and our planet while reducing consumption. Once your child outgrows the Starting Solids Set  and can use regular cups and utensils, the training cup is the perfect size rinse cup in the bathroom, the infant spoon doubles as a tea stirrer and the bowl is great for snacks or as an additional compartment to our modular divided plate. Our plates are great for any age as they encourage choosing a variety of healthy foods at each meal and help visualize portion sizes easily. It’s the lasting beauty of stainless steel - grows with your child and reduces waste.

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