Tuesday 24 June 2014

Taking Netball to Bangladesh

While on Sunday in Australia, Melbourne Vixens beat Queensland Firebirds in ANZ championship title at Hisense Arena, Nayana Pardeshi from Naz India Goal was teaching the same sport to 70 girls in Bangladesh. Most of us are unfamiliar with Melbourne Vixens and Queensland Firebirds, they are the netball teams from Australian Netball league, as for Naz India Goal represents a programme under NGO Naz India that uses netball and life skills education to transform the lives of young underprivileged girls in India, on and off the court.

Nayana Pardeshi who along with being a Gold Award participant also holds the post of Programme Assistant and Coach for Naz India Goal in partnership with BRAC (Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee) travelled to Bangladesh to teach girls from a village near Sylhet and thereby providing them with a platform to transform their own lives like Nayana herself has done in past 4-5 years. Below is the description of her Residential Project in her own words:

First day of the project was spent introducing the sport to the participants; this was followed by teaching them the technique of chest pass. This was done through a training drill known as ‘5 point play skill of Netball.’

Before we started the second day, a quick revision of the previous day was done by asking questions related to the basics of Netball and chest passing. Later the girls were taught the techniques of two foot landing & pivot and were given enough practice time to enhance their skills. Next the girls along with cones and chalk powder made their own netball court and were then positioned at their respective position. After which they were suppose to practice the skills they had learnt till now in a real time situation and were also introduced to shoulder pass.

Day three involved shooting practice, this practice was done using newly fitted bamboo poles. After an hour of shooting practice the participants were introduced to two new forms of passes i.e. high pass and lob pass. These two passes are considered extremely important skills when it comes to winning netball matches. The day ended with a demonstration match played by the trainers from BRAC and I also captained one of the sides.

Day four was there just to revise everything we learnt in past three days and this was done by playing Kaun Banega Crorepati based on Netball rules. 

For me it was an experience that I will never forget and I am happy to say I not only brought about a change in their community but also made new friends.    

Monday 23 June 2014

8th Award Leader Training (YES) Workshop

The National Award Authority (NAA) organized an Award Leader Training Workshop (YES Workshop) at Award Training Centre, New Delhi on 19-20th June 2014. Twelve participants from six different institutions including Magic Bus participated in the workshop. Ice breaking session was the curtain raiser to the workshop; it was led by National Director Kapil Bhalla who also gave an introduction to the Award. The next session was led by Bivujit Mukhoty (Programme Manager) who shared details related to the Award philosophy and Award framework. Then Mr. Bhalla delivered a session on one of the four pillars of the programme i.e. Service, he started the session with an activity which helped participants feel the importance of this section. The post lunch session was devoted to Skills and Adventurous Journey sections, which were led by Bivujit Mukhoty. Kapil Bhalla also led a session on volunteering which is considered an integral part of the programme. The day ended with the screening of the IAYP India movie, "Why Not You?". 

The second day started with the last pillar of the Award i.e. Physical Recreation. The session began with some on-the-spot physical activities and then moved onto the requirements and importance of Physical Recreation. This was followed by the Residential Project which is part of the Gold Award programme. Some details regarding the technical aspect of the Award such as risk management were also discussed. The penultimate session was on the Web Resources and Online Record Book (ORB) which was led by Mr. Kapil Bhalla.  This session was about details regarding International Award for Young People website and the presence of the Indian Award at different social media platform. Our National Director also talked about one of our new innovations related to the programme, the Online Record Book (ORB). He shared details on ORB process and the rollout plan for ORB.  The final session of the workshop was taken by our Programme Manager who discussed the importance of branding and risk management in the smooth running of the Award. The workshop concluded with an appreciation note from Kapil Bhalla followed by certificate presentation to our new Award leaders.

Tuesday 17 June 2014

Project Intervention

Students of St. Mary’s School Safdarjung went for a Residential Project at Azadpura village in Madhya Pradesh. For the students it was nothing close to any other educational project they attended before, they call it the Intervention project. Oxford defines intervention as any interference in the affairs of others, especially by one state in the affairs of another. For the participants intervention here meant taking the beneficiary’s perspective and expectations on the idea of building an educational hub for them.

Here is the experience shared by one of the participant from the Residential Project:

First day of the project was dedicated to acclimatizing ourselves to this new environment, the acclimatization included profiling the community by knowing their culture, their daily routine all this spread across all the age group and for both sex. The motive behind profiling was to weigh the reactions of the locals towards an external entity like us. The results were quite positive as we were able to narrow down to the appropriate locality and timing for setting up our project. As for the perspective of locals towards us was warm and welcoming, this gave us a morale boost and filled us with happiness even before we started the project. 

From the above profiling it was clear that targeting children between 3-5 years and their mothers was of highest priority. 3-5 years because that is the age group where depending on our qualification we would be able to provide them with the basic training such as verbal and motor training. As for their mothers, they were also a point of focus as children learn most from and listen most to their mothers. 

After consistent effort we were able to attract the children to the school, this involved jumping over the psychological walls created by the villagers and making them feel comfortable. At the start we made sure we involved the children in simple recreational activities with prime focus on motor and language skills. There were two important lessons for us to take home, first being, reputation is an important factor when it comes to interventions. Secondly, we also learnt to be sensitive when it comes to interacting with people from different cultures as it took us time to break our barriers of limitation in order to be one of them. Hence from this day onward we decided to devote quality time in reflection, self-introspection and planning for the next day.

With high expectation we started our next day with the aim of bringing in the mothers of 3-5 years children to the school. This turned out to be a much tougher task as the women were not ready to leave their household and delay their daily chores. That is when we realized we let over-confidence cloud our thought process, which is when we decided to get into immediate discussions to solve this problem. In order to tackle this problem we decided to put in extra effort in order to convince the women to leave their houses but this too didn’t help. Once we returned back to the school all battered and drained, not because we were tired but because we didn’t manage to complete day’s objective. To our surprise at the end of the day, 8-10 women did turn up at the school. Thoughts on schooling and its importance were discussed between us and the participating women. 

In spite of all the hurdles that we faced in the day, the major achievement was the active response of women and the confidence they showed to bring more women the next day. We also managed to get volunteers from among them to help us for the next day. It was a day of realization and self-reflection. We understood the importance of planning and that we should not have adopted a laid-back attitude after a minor achievement. Remaining day was spent on preparing for the next day which was the main day of INTERVENTION.

On the D-Day we felt more confident and organized. Firstly, we had our final recreational session which was specifically focusing on children’s cognitive and social development. Meanwhile we were also doing preparing for the upcoming volleyball match. The volleyball match was played between the two teams formed among the villagers of Azadpura. This was not just a mere match for us but the result of three days of our reputation building and execution of initiatives. We finally formed an effective recreational team. This was followed by the reception of women in huge number at the educational hub.  One volunteers supported us a
lot; it was her who made that extra effort to bring 40-45 women to the new school. She proved herself and was very confident & willing. We conducted circle time with them which addressed the need of being
responsible once the children are admitted in school. We also made them self-realize the importance of time by using the medium of role play. It was good to see that it was a two-way communication process as they suggested lot of trainings and courses that can be conducted for them in the school in near future. The thought and significance of ‘empowerment’ was well conveyed. We ended the day by giving recognition to all our volunteers and the teams in the form on certificates, cash prizes and small gifts. We were very glad to see that all our beneficiaries went happy with a promise that they will always support when required. The trust in their eyes was our real achievement. 

IAYP Residential Project 2014 gave us exposure to explore ourselves and to contribute towards a change. It made us more responsible and enlightened us on our role towards the economically disadvantaged. We learnt to work under limitations and deal with different people in difficult circumstances.   


Monday 16 June 2014

Magic of FIFA World Cup in India

‘Prepare for joyous, nerve-shedding, ludicrous drama as Brazil’s carnival begins’ was the heading given to an article in Telegraph UK by reputed football journalist Paul Hayward. The above mentioned feelings for FIFA World Cup 2014 are no different in India, for next one month late night television viewing is a must, football jerseys will become part of the social dress code and those kids who don’t want to become Sachin, Ganguly or Dravid would one day want to become Ronaldo or Messi when they grow up. Football is the highest growing sport in India right now, which is actually a huge thing when you realize it’s difficult for any sport to grow in our cricket worshipping country. 

While the legacy of the Award is to engage young people in meaningful activity, it is the legacy of the World Cup that brings youth of a country together and to connect. With Physical Recreation being one of the three pillars of the Award Programme and one of the most important domains for non-classroom education, it is through sports our youth can learn about leadership, team-spirit, hard-work etc. while achieving physical well being. 

India & World Cup
India is ranked 154th in the world. India almost participated in the World Cup in 1950, coincidentally also hosted by Brazil, but had to withdraw because Indian footballers were not allowed to play barefoot. The 1950s and early 60s are perhaps the golden age of Indian football: India won gold at the inaugural Asian Games in 1951, won it again in 1962, and finished fourth in 1956 Melbourne Olympics. It is in 2017 that India will be organizing FIFA U-17 World Cup.

Connecting young people
National Director Kapil Bhalla believes, “sports is one of the most important tool for transforming our youth and there by transforming out society. As the football fever grips the nation, I am sure we will see a rise in number of participants choosing football as their Physical recreation activity.”  

According to Programme Manager (International Award for Young People India) Bivujit Mukhoty, “the World Cup is a platform to make the youth understand the importance of a recreational activity in their life. There are players from very humble background who attract million eyeballs every time they step on to the football all because they chose sports to empower themselves.” 

Tuesday 10 June 2014

My Memorable Days in Darjeeling

By Monoswita Sharma

On 25th of April we started our journey in the Himalayas. We thank our Principal Sir, Lipika Maam, Monojyoti Sir for giving us this opportunity. Also, we were very lucky to have with us Mr. Tarun Saikia sir, the first person from Assam to climb Mt. Everest. From this Trekking we improved our life skills. We always got all the comfort, facilities from our parents, teachers but after starting our journey in the Himalayas, we got the opportunity to step up from our comfort zone and see the real life.

On 25th April at 07:00 p.m. we started our journey from our school to Guwahati railway station. The next morning we reached N.J.P. station. We had our break-fast in Siliguri Near about 10:30 a.m. we started our journey again from Siliguri till Maney Bhanjan. After reaching Maney Bhanjan we went for a walk. The next morning we went to Tumbling by jeep. We reached Tumbling at 09:30. We had our breakfast. At 11:00 our real journey begins we started walking from Tumbling. We walked fro 10 k.m. We enjoyed walking. On the way we met with heavy rain shower and all of us put ‘barsati’ as we did not have raincoat. We all enjoyed walking in the rain but also more effort and energy was needed. Finally we reached Kal Pokhri at 05:00 p.m. It was very cold and also we met snow falls. We played in the snow. Next morning at 08:00 a.m. we started our journey from Kal Pokhri to Sandakphu, though it was 6k.m. less than the previous day but more energy was needed and it was also very tiring as we had to walk up the mountains. The temperature was near about 20C or 30C. We reached Sandakphu at 03:00 p.m. we had our lunch went for light seeing. We were staying in the border of India and Nepal. We stayed in India and had our snacks in Nepal. It was very cold out there.

Next morning we started trekking at 08:00 a.m. We walked for 22k.m. Up above the mountings there was water scarcity, so we had to reduce our uses of water. At 11:00 a.m. we stopped for our lunch in Gurdung. That day we were walking in the mountains for the last time. Again at 01:00 p.m. we started our journey of rest of 10km. from Gurgund. In the evening we reached Rimbick after walking for 22km. That was our last day of trekking and we have completed it successfully. The next morning we went back to Darjeeling. We stayed there for one day. On 2nd May finally we reached back to Guwahati.
In this trekking we learnt how to be self disciplined, de¬termined and we have developed leadership qualities, teambuilding capacity, adaptation, problem solving capacity, resilience and also our inter personal rela¬tionship.

We would like to thank Tarun Saikia Sir (1st Assamese to climb the Mount Everest) and all the team members of his committee for guiding us and creating a sense of discipline and consciousness about protecting our environment within us. We brought back lots of sweet memories, love towards nature within us.

Wednesday 4 June 2014

Embracing Young Volunteers

Volunteering is an integral part of the Award Programme, it is not only an important part for our participants to complete their Awards but also an important factor for smooth running of the programme. Below is an article first published in The Guardian talking about ways to embrace young volunteers.

There has never been a better time for charities to embrace a generation of school-aged volunteers, so why do so many young people and children find it so hard to locate meaningful volunteering opportunities?

Young volunteers have a vast amount to give, and yet a lot of charities are missing out on this vital opportunity, citing a number of common myths surrounding youth volunteering. If charities don't support young volunteers, then we are not safeguarding our own futures by supporting the next generation of volunteers and, more importantly, we're missing out on all the benefits that young volunteers can bring to our organisations.

At the JLGB (Jewish Lads' & Girls' Brigade), we have worked hard to remove barriers to participation for young Jewish people in a whole host of national award schemes, most notably the Duke of Edinburgh Award. As a result, we have seen an enormous increase in participation with 50% of young Jewish people in faith schools now taking part in this award. However, 65% indicated that they required extra support in finding a suitable volunteering placement.

The same topics arise in every discussion of under-16s volunteering: insurance won't cover this age group, young people would need too much training, there's no one to supervise them, or perhaps they've had bad experiences with young volunteers before. Some of these are valid worries, many are urban myths, but more often than not, it's just been easier for many charities to stick to the status quo than tackle the (sometimes remarkably simple) changes that are needed in order to embrace young volunteers.

Of course, many charities lack vital resources and capacity so key to this initiative will be helping more charities to look at their current approaches and understanding of young volunteers. It is encouraging that, with some simple steps, a great amount can be achieved.

A short guide to embracing young volunteers
1. Think about how current voluntary roles might be adapted for a young person
Remember to take in to account commitments that young people might have, for example school work or faith barriers such as not volunteering on the Sabbath. Perhaps it isn't appropriate for young people to work one-to-one with your beneficiaries, but they could always help out under the supervision of a senior volunteer, or even as a small group of young people.
2. Use technology to create new opportunities
Almost all young people are familiar with new technology, software and social media. A huge range of volunteering opportunities can be created easily with this as a springboard, such as getting a young person to manage social media sites, blog regularly or make and edit videos, photos and publicity – all of which can even be done remotely.
3. Don't be put off by tricky stuff like insurance or youth policies
Sometimes, all it takes is a small tweak of your charity's current policy to include under-16s, and if not then perhaps they will be covered by their school or youth group's policy or award scheme. It's also worth identifying charities in your area which you know work with young volunteers and approaching them for advice – vInspired has an exhaustive list of local charities that accept young volunteers.
4. Get young people and staff prepared
By developing training sessions with young people in mind, you can easily cover lots of potential issues, such as confidentiality, what it means to be a responsible volunteer, and what to do if they have any issues. Why not approach your local voluntary youth organization, and see if they run any sort of training for young volunteers? Don't forget to prepare current staff and volunteers for working with young people – sometimes a bad experience with other volunteers can put young people off.
5. Don't forget rewards
Sounds obvious, but we all like to be appreciated. Does your organization have an awards evening in which you could include young people? Could you support a young person's participation in a nationally recognized volunteering award?
6. Shout about it
If we all shout about what we are doing to support young volunteers, it will gradually become more acceptable to include young volunteers, and we can learn from one another's experiences. Use newsletters, social media and local schools or youth groups to publicize your good work – and let's get British charities talking about how we can support a new generation of volunteers.

Visual art of writing

Calligraphy seems like a lost art these days but for Udeept Bhatnagar, Gold Award participant from Delhi Public School Gurgaon, it was all he wanted to learn and build upon. 

I first found out about calligraphy when I saw my cousin decorate a greeting card, to me that card was the single most beautiful thing I had ever be held in my life. I then became curious about calligraphy and only got an opportunity to learn this art when I became a part of the Award Programme and opted for calligraphy as my skill. I asked my parents to obtain for me a calligraphy set. This desire of mine was promptly fulfilled by my parents.

The next step was to actually learn the art of calligraphy and build my skills to a level where I would be able to use calligraphy effectively in everyday life. I sought the guidance of my uncle, who I knew held an interest in such matters. His penmanship, bolstered by the art of calligraphy, was exquisite. This led to my association with the broad tip pen and a bottle of ink. I knew that this was one journey I would like as much as my destination, which was that of being the best I could be at this unique form of visual art. In the beginning my instructions were clear, crisp and concise. The duration of lessons too, was short. I was simply asked to make different strokes on a plain white sheet, but as I progressed from a beginner to a novice, the lessons and instructions both became harder and more elaborate. The effort put into each class seemed too much in proportion to the time I was spending. It is often said that hindsight is perfect. I can completely relate to this upon looking at the results all that effort has yielded. Soon enough, I was faced with a deceptively easy decision. I use the words deceptively easy because I wasn’t aware of the various different consequences of my choice. The choice faced by me was which writing style to pursue, study and practice in order to be an expert at it. I chose to learn the ‘Gothic Style’. On my 12th birthday I received a book on calligraphy as a gesture of encouragement from my parents.

This book became my Holy Grail and nearly all of my free time was spent trying different techniques and methods that I studied in this marvelous volume.. The person who inspired me to keep on learning and practicing was my father who convinced me and motivated me no matter what. Besides helping me become more creative calligraphy has helped me increase my concentration as well as hone my creative abilities. The Award Programme has helped me get recognition in my class for the art of calligraphy, and I am forever grateful for getting the opportunity to pursue something I am passionate about and hone my skill.