Antonia Contreras

Conception, Chile

Antonia  Contreras

Antonia lives in Nonguén, a socially and economically vulnerable area of the city of Concepcion in Chile. Nonguén is home to a warm and friendly people, but the area is pervaded by poverty and social problems. Antonia puts her success down to her family, who instilled in her a respect for education, and, with a lot of effort, managed to provide her with a computer. Even with barriers to success, Antonia always had the motivation to continue learning. 

With her classmates at Villa Nonguén School, Antonia is among the first generation to all go past fourth grade, and also the first to be taught a new school curriculum that incorporates entrepreneurship, programming, innovation, and the creation of sustainable projects. By learning about how to lead projects, students who wanted to create sustainable ideas and contribute to the protection of the environment now had the tools to do it. Since Antonia was a child, she had been taught to care for and protect the environment – for example by not littering, recycling, and converting organic waste into compost. As a result, Antonia was able to create what she feels is her best achievement – an intelligent compost bin called “Compost Fast” (smart compost). This entails using solar energy to accelerate the composting process in order to reduce and recycle waste from rural and urban areas.

Alongside this, Antonia has also developed an application called Stay Gold that provides psychological help services to adolescents in the community who suffer from anxiety and stress. This is important because in Nonguén the poverty rate is 96%, and many families do not have the resources necessary to pay for a psychological consultation. Other environmental projects that Antonia and her classmates have been involved in – such as Solar Desk (a piece of furniture based on solar energy) and SIR (garbage cans with sensors) – also contribute to elements of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. 

With excellent grades and a long list of extracurricular achievements, Antonia succeeded in winning a scholarship for high school. She has exhibited her work at conferences and was a finalist at Boot Camp 2020, as well as attending the Explore BioBío and Casa W Innovation camps. If she wins the Global Student Prize, she would like to be able to finance courses to educate her Nonguén neighbours in environmental conservation. Nonguén is rich in native forests, wetlands, and hundreds of species of animals, including some in danger of extinction. She hopes that Nonguén will become a place where people recognise the importance of protecting, caring for and preserving the environment.