Wednesday, 28 December 2016

In the Land of Mist Showers and Flowers – A Trek to the Valley of Flowers

Parivesh Kumar Pandey, Award Leader, Birla Vidyamandir, Nainital sharing an adventurous cum fun-packed outing, which was designed to acquaint the Bronze participants with the concept of Biosphere Reserves and to have an intimate feel of life as it has been in the Higher and Greater Himalayan region.

A group consisting of 15 Bronze aspirants from senior school with two mentors and a professional mountaineer as guide left for a trek to the Valley of Flower on Sept 11, 2016. The Valley of Flowers constitutes the second Core Zone of the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve (NDBR).

Along with additional morning and evening workout, which was indispensable to keep the boys fit to take up the trek of 60 km (to and fro from the road head) at Himalayan heights (up to 13,500 ft.) and acquainting them with the vagaries of weather therein, they were made conversant with all that was knowable so that the trip may ultimately culminate into a memorable learning experience. The participants were familiarised with the background information of the area before taking up the trek.

The International coordination council of UNESCO in its first meeting in 1971 had first floated the idea of the creation of Biosphere Reserves throughout the world and so far, more than 400 Biospheres Reserves in 90 countries have been created. Out of the 18 Biosphere Reserves created in India, the Nandadevi Biosphere Reserve, named after the famous Nanda Devi Peak, enjoys a distinct place. It is the second oldest Biosphere Reserve of India, created in 1988 (after Nilgiri, created in 1986) and the first one of the Himalayas. This reserve, spread over an area of 2236.74 sq. km, occupies a special place in the Biosphere Reserve systems of high altitude Himalayan region of India. Its territory comprises the unique combination of meadows, several high peaks and glaciers. On February 7, 2000, Govt. of India extended the total area of NDBR from the then existing 2236.74 sq. km. to 5860.69 sq. km. by including the Valley of Flowers National Park as the second core zone and adjoining habitation zones as the buffer zone. Before 2000, there were only 17 villages in the buffer zone of NDBR. 30 more villages including the famous Badrinath shrine and Hemkund Sahib have been incorporated in the buffer zone area during the expansion of the protected area. Thus a total of 47 villages are now situated in the buffer zone of NDBR in the districts of Pithoragarh, Bageshwar, Chamoli etc of Uttarakhand Himalayas. Four of these villages are presently uninhabited.

A 17 km trek connects the Joshimath-Badrinath road, some 250 km away from Nainital with this second core zone of Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve. Ice rarely melts here, save in the rainy season. The region where this second core zone is located is called the Bhyundar Valley. It was Frank S Smythe, an English mountaineer, who first discovered it in 1931. He spontaneously named it as ‘The Valley of Flowers’. In 1939 the Botanical Garden of Edinburgh sent Miss Joan Margrett Legge here for collecting the seeds of some rare varieties. She lost her life in this valley in a fatal fall from a rock on 4 July 1939 and is buried at the spot of her fall in the valley. Well before her death Frank S Smythe in his book had described this landscape as "a valley of perfect beauty where the human spirit may find repose”. The words engraved on the grave of Joan Margrett --I will lift up my eyes unto the hills from where cometh my help -- speak of the ultimate solace the human heart has always found in such towering heights melting into the endless blue.

Situated in the upper expansions of Bhyundar Ganga, a tributary of Alaknanda, the valley of flowers has seen some important changes in the past few years. Grazing of cattle is completely banned here now. One cannot take away plants or their bulbs from here. In an active liaison with the department of forests the local youth here have been a grand success in keeping the region ever so clean despite the mounting pressure of tourists and pilgrims who pass touching the base of this valley while on way to Hemkund Sahib, six km ahead.

On Sept 11, the group left Nainital in the wee hours of the morning in two vehicles. It had been drizzling since the night and the entire landscape was enveloped in mist. The group was flagged off by the Principal at 6.30 am. The destination as per the itinerary was Joshimath, a border town, over 250 km away from the point of departure. Situated in Chamoli district of Garhwal Hills it is known as the base camp for those on the way to Badrinath.

Passing through the deep gorges crisscrossed by gurgling seasonal streams due to continual drizzling and gaining height while climbing the successive expanse of central Himalayan summits, the group having crossed the historical settlement of Dwarahat by early noon struck the most fertile tabled expanse of Givan valley. A meandering climb from this valley finally terminates at a vantage point known as Dewalikhal. Driving past the holy town of Karnprayag, known for the confluence of Alaknanda and Pindar rivers, the next stoppage was at Pipalkoti. By nightfall, the group arrived at Joshimath.

The next morning while the Nandadevi summit with all its feminine grace was shining in the rising sun and the faint glimmer of the distant 'Sleeping Beauty', yet another peak, could be seen through the window panes of the cozy dining hall -- the group, following an early breakfasting, drove towards Govindghat on Badrinath road.

A lively settlement once on the banks of turbulent Alaknanda, past Vishnughad - Govindghat is around 25 km away from Joshimath. It is from here that the 17 km long trek to Ghangharia, the base camp for the twin destinations, while traversing the rugged terrain along the Bhyundar Ganga- a tributary of Alaknanda- was to gain the height of 4500 ft within next five or six hours. This distance of 17 km was to be negotiated well before sundown. Here the group was divided into two halves and munching the tuck and later the packed lunch, the journey begun by 10 am after a briefing by the guide at the take-off point.

The entire expanse between Gobindghat and Ghangharia along the Bhyundar Ganga is thickly wooded with Spruce, Birch and Blue Fir. Foamy cascades nestling on towering rocky heights  guarding the entire valley like sentinels, add on to the picturesque charms as one walks the cobbled pathway that stretches right up to Ghangharia.

The advance party reached Ghangharia early in the evening followed by the arrival of the rest by sundown. Ghangharia at an altitude of 11500 ft. indeed is like a sudden outburst of visual urbanity after traversing 17 km of thickly wooded trek. Beyond it is the unending wilderness of the Valley of Flowers enlivened by the splash of colours, rustle of wind stealing its way through the age old conifers and the reverberation of hill streams.

Next morning the group set off for a seven km march to the Valley negotiating a steep climb through a meandering goat's trail overlooking deep gorges. The Valley of Flowers actually is an alpine meadow at the foot of Mt Kamet. At the Himalayan heights, the weather generally remains unpredictable and one often encounters routine showers in the afternoon. The group went deep right up to the moraine in the valley that has an expansion of around 9 sq. km. Besides the Azalea bushes, Primulas, Fritillaria and so many other flowering and medicinal plants the landscape itself was found to be quite enchanting. Intermittent rains, for which the group was already prepared, could not deter either the curiosity or the enthusiasm of the members of the group and by the evening they arrived at the base camp.

On Sept 14, as the group was preparing for the return journey it snowed in the valley and the Twin Mountains marking the entrance to the valley became flaky white. On the way, the far off Hathi Parvat was also clad in snow. At 2 am on Sept 15, the group was back home at Nainital.

For all the group members it was indeed an opportunity not only to communicate with nature but also with the people who have been inhabiting it over the generations as its true custodians. It will not be out of place to mention here that as a product of people-policy conflict the Chipko movement in the seventies originated from this region only. It was also an opportunity to realise, and that too for the first time, that despite the apparent and alleged 'madness' with which the forces of nature are often dubbed, there is a 'method' in it; designed of course to protect and nurture those who love and care for it.  Click here for more pictures...

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Blanket Donation Programme

Sidhartha Sen Gupta, Award Leader from Miles Bronson Residential School, Guwahati, Assam shares a report on the blanket donation programme by the Award participants of the school.

“Service to man is service to God!” With the advent of winter when early mist and cold slow our daily activities, there are many under-priveleged people who are at the mercy of all under the open sky! Nature responds to the cold and even the birds look for warmth and shelter.

Amidst this cold, when we prioritise our responsibilities towards the people around us, we also fulfill our life’s mission. This is the opportunity that IAYP participants get by their involvement in different activities. As IAYP is a life-enriching programme, we feel fortunate that on 11th December 2016 Sunday, we organised a ‘Blanket Donation Programme’ for the roadside dwellers of our city. It’s heartening to mention the response was hundred percent, with the presence of non-IAYP students and teachers too. And our next venture is to ensure the distribution of the collection in coming days.

This act of kindness will not only bring smiles to their faces but will also spread awareness about our responsibilities. “We may not eradicate the poverty of the whole nation, but if we take pledge to help at least one in our community; that’s great and thus we spread Humanity.”

The Duchess of Cambridge shares her DofE experience

Did you know that HRH The Duchess of Cambridge is a Gold Award holder? Read about what her DofE experience.

"I started my Duke of Edinburgh's Award while I was at Marlborough College, completing my Bronze before getting my Gold Award while I was in the sixth form. The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is such a great way for young people to grow in confidence, learn new skills, work as part of a team and have great fun along the way. While getting my Gold Award was challenging at times, it is one of my most memorable experiences from growing up, and I could not recommend it more highly."

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Award Leader Training (YES) Workshop

The International Award for Young People, India organized an Award Leader training workshop at Pawar Public School, Pune on 07 - 08 December 2016.

The two-day workshop was attended by 12 participants from different institutions including Pawar Public School, Pune; Sanjay Ghodawat International School, Kolhapur; Pawar Public School, Kandivali; Sanjeevan Public Shool, Kolhapur and Symbiosis International School, Pune.

The workshop began with an ice-breaking session where the participants introduced themselves and shared their expectations from the workshop. This was followed by an introduction to the Award, and sessions on its philosophy, framework and benefits. The participants were given in-depth knowledge regarding the four Sections of the Programme, i.e. Skills, Service, Physical Recreation and Adventurous Journey along with the Residential Project for the Gold Level. The training team also made them familiar with other important aspects related to the Programme, which included Risk Management, Online Record Book, Benefits of Award and Brand Pack.

The workshop was led by Kapil Bhalla (National Director) and Bivujit Mukhoty (Programme Manager). The workshop included interactive and fun sessions to engage with the Award Leaders.

Adventure Trip to Prashar Lake

Trilok Singh, Award Leader from Harvest International School, Ludhiana is sharing his report on the Bronze Level Adventurous Journey.

The nine-hour-long haul to Himachal started on 15th October 2016 at around 9.30 pm. Nine hours later journeying in two tempo travellers we reached our destination and base camp, Baggi, which is roughly 10 km from Prashar Lake. This group comprised two Award Leaders, two mentors and eighteen Bronze level aspirants.

The trekking adventure started immediately after breakfast, when the participants climbed the challenging track into a beautiful new world. The arduous climb presented many difficulties but operating as a team they made light work of it. The group took a well-earned break at the half-way point, stopping at a couple of houses where they were allowed to use the facilities. The participants made food for everyone with the limited available resources.

At 7.00 pm, as we dragged our weary limbs onto the shores of Prashar, its stunning beauty erased all our aches and pains. The participants set about pitching the tents immediately, before the sun could go down. The participants worked in three groups with one leader. With the help of the mentors and Award Leaders, the participants built fires and set about preparing the evening meal. This self cooked meal by the participants was enjoyed together, sitting on the ground around the campfire. After dinner the participants spent some time together discussing and planning the next day's activities.

The early morning sun heralded a fabulous day and spurred the participants to accomplish all the necessary camp tasks with alacrity. Soon the fire was lit for a breakfast, prepared as a group. The day was passed in many adventurous activities like practicing the tent pitching, rope activities, and understanding of camp craft and equipment. The mentors explained the navigation techniques to the participants.

In the evening the participants packed their tents and returned to base camp ’Baggi’. After reaching the base camp site, the participants pitched camp, lit a fire and enjoyed a small dance party; food was then prepared and eaten by firelight and then straight to sleep as an early start was required the next morning.

Next morning everyone was up at 6.00 am, ready to pack tents and load equipment into the tempo travellers again. It was challenging work for us since nobody wanted to break the spell the beautiful location cast upon us. It was a wonderful experience that gave us a new way to look and explore mother nature.

Inviting Articles for Award India December 2016 Issue

National Award Authority seeks pleasure in inviting articles in 300 words for the upcoming issue of Award India, December 2016 on the theme of Gender Diversity and Women Empowerment from Award Aspirants and Award Leaders. Two best articles will be given special recognition by NAA. Don't miss this opportunity and send your write-ups before 27th December 2016 at

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Beauty Away from the Metropolis

Aakashi Kotoky, Gold Award holder from Maria’s Public School, Guwahati is sharing her Residential Project experience.

For my Residential Project I went to Sakunabari, a village that is located near Sonapur on the way to Nagaon, Assam, for 5 days and 6 nights. During this period I stayed in a small household consisting of four family members who welcomed me with open arms.

During the period of my stay, I visited different households and asked various questions relating to the daily lives of the family members. The daily life in a village is very tough; it starts very early in the morning as the full advantage has to be taken of daylight before darkness descends. While I was there, the heads of the families were preoccupied with different agricultural activities for the next agricultural year and hence they could not give me the time to the extent I desired. Nevertheless, I managed to collect valuable information on the pros and cons of life in a village.

Their current problems include lack of medical facilities, a school quite far away, irregular supply of electricity, and the absence of clean drinking water, besides the lack of suitable transport facilities. While living with the family I learnt many new things and tried to adapt myself to the village life. It was my first time to visit an unknown place and live with unknown people for a few days. The experience that I got can never be completed while living in the cities. At first, I thought that it would be quite difficult to live among strangers, but it proved to be wrong. The experience that I gathered and the knowledge that I could receive from the members of the family will help me go a long way throughout my life.

While interacting with the village folk I was pleasantly surprised to observe that even in the absence of basic amenities the residents appeared to be quite happy compared to their urban counterparts. To my mind, this may be attributed to the absence of any form of pollution, a constant touch with nature, a uniform standard of living and a spontaneous desire to be involved in community welfare.

During my visit to this village, the female members of the house gave me valuable tips on the art of making pithas, laroos and other traditional Assamese delicacies. Being farmers predominantly, they had access to vast areas of land on which they raised various crops as well as domestic animals such as cows, goats, pigs and birds. The most interesting aspect of my visit was the greenhouse, where various ornamental plants and flowers were grown, most of which was sold in the nearby market at nominal prices. I gave them some advice on marketing methods such as growing hybrid plants, the use of manure for healthier growth and the arrangement of flowers to make attractive bouquets with a view to obtaining a higher price for their labour. I must confess that my brief visit was an eye opener to the horizons of rural life and my interactions with these simple people and my experiences will remain etched forever in my memory.

I sincerely thank IAYP for giving me this opportunity to explore myself better, as through this Residential Project I have learned to adapt to unknown conditions and find out new ways of survival while being away from the comforts of my regular life .This programme also opened new horizons for me to polish my skills with confidence.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Chemistry behind the success of Award Programme

Neelam Lohiya, Award Leader and a research scholar from Ansal University, Gurgaon is explaining her Chemical Mantra behind the success of the Award Programme.

When collision between the molecules in a chemical reaction takes place, the kinetic energy is utilized to break the necessary bonds so that new bonds can be formed and a new element is formed.

This new element in life was formed when I joined IAYP. I am Neelam Lohiya, a chemistry teacher. My classroom lectures revolve around periodic tables, formulae and chemical reactions. However, I got this opportunity to explore a new chemistry between me and my students, with IAYP; I got associated with the Award in 2012 as a volunteer and Award Leader.

I received a new approach to look at my students, their hidden potential, my subject and over all teaching methods. I felt very strongly that real learning takes place outside the classroom when students are exposed to face challenges and work in teams. While books provide them theory to read, being with them on IAYP trips, excursions, nature walk or volunteering work, allowed me to test their problem solving, team building, critical thinking, communication and listening skills as part of their experiential learning.

The confused, doubtful faces of the younger lot in my classes suddenly looked happy, joyful and exploratory when going on Adventure trips or engaged in the Service section. Whereas earlier they were not ready to absorb the lessons, now they started practicing a skill regularly and I found they were better involved in classroom lectures. In fact, besides my passion for the subject, I also got connected with my interest in craft, environment friendly campaigns, food adulteration projects and first aid services. I found this programme leading to a holistic development of the youth because those who were glued to their books, when they started spending time in the gym, and playing in the grounds for one hour per week as part of their physical recreation, found another world of happiness, meaning to their life and their approach towards learning itself changed.

To me, IAYP in short means Youth Empowerment and Nation Building. Because this is how the success chemistry of IAYP works:

Service+ Skills+ Adventurous Journey+ Physical Recreation+ Residential Project=IAYP
IAYP+ Youth+ Experiential Learning=Success
Success=Nation Building

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Award Leader Training (YES) Workshop

The International Award for Young People, India organized an Award Leader training workshop at Award Training Centre, New Delhi on 17th - 18th November, 2016.

The two-day workshop was attended by 9 participants from different institutions across India, including Rungta Int School, Raipur; Jharkhand Gorkha Sangathan, Ranchi; Les Elfes International Camps, New Delhi; Vidya Sanskar International School, Faridabad; Amity International School, Pushp Vihar, New Delhi, Mount Carmel School, Dwarka, New Delhi and a volunteer from NAA Office.

The workshop began with an ice-breaking session where the participants introduced themselves and shared their expectations from the workshop. This was followed by an introduction to the Award, and sessions on its philosophy, framework, benefits of the Award and how a volunteer can play a crucial role in the Award programme. The participants were given in-depth knowledge regarding the four domains of the programme, i.e. Skills, Service, Physical Recreation and Adventurous Journey and also the Residential Project for the Gold Level. The training team also made them familiar with other important aspects related to the Programme, which included Risk Management, Online Record Book, Benefits of Award and Brand Pack.

The workshop was led by Kapil Bhalla (National Director), Bivujit Mukhoty (Programme Manager) and Ankit Durga (Youth Representative, IGE). The workshop included interactive and fun sessions to engage with the Award Leaders. Click here for the pictures

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

NAA Team Visits Jammu

The NAA Team visited Jammu and Kashmir on 7th and 8th November 2016. Kapil Bhalla, National Director, visited Jodhamal Public School, Jammu on 7th November and met with the Award participants along with the Award Leaders. The Principal Trilok Singh Bist was also present during this interaction.

Kapil Bhalla also visited Sri Mata Vaishno Devi University (SMVDU), Katra and met with University authorities and explored the possibilities to spread the Award programme among the University students. He also shared the different case studies with the authorities.

Bivujit Mukhoty, Programme Manager visited Jammu Sanskriti Vidyalaya, Jammu on 7th November and delivered three orientation sessions to three groups of students. The orientations were attended by approximately 70 students.

On 8th of November Kapil Bhalla and Bivujit Mukhoty attended the Award Presentation Ceremony at Govt. Girls Higher Secondary School, Jakh, Samba. Ten Bronze Award participants received their Award from Mr. Chander Parkash, Hon'ble Minister for Industries and Commerce, Govt. of Jammu and Kashmir. The NAA Team would like to thank the Hon'ble Minister for his time and inspirational words to the Award participants and Award Holders. We also wish to congratulate the Award Holders for completing their first step in the Award Journey.

Never Give Up, The Award Taught Me

My name is Kankana Hambir. I am a Gold Award holder of the International Award for Young People. If you ask about my IAYP journey, I would say it was incredible!

This journey made me steady, confident and optimistic towards my life. I observed people from different walks of society, learnt and shared their experiences, which ultimately enriched my life in many ways. Through my internship programme I explored my own potential and efficiency. The Award Programme taught me how to make decisions, guided me to choose between good and bad, and also helped to make good friends whom I can trust with my life. Working as an intern made me more confident and sincere towards my life. Actually it shaped my life. I am truly grateful to this Programme. It changed my life entirely. I have forged so many good memories that I will cherish throughout my life, leaving the negative ones.
During my Silver Award journey my experience with Narendrapur Ramakrishna Mission for Blind Boys was extraordinary. In Susunia hills, Bankura, I volunteered with them during the activities of our Adventurous Journey and was surprised to see their special abilities. They were fearless in their tasks, which we could not have done even though we have all the right abilities. This not only astonished me but also motivated me a lot. With all the senses we are often disabled, but they are not. Because seeing makes us more sensible and agile and also nervous but they were fantastic by not seeing anything, just feeling everything. It was a marvellous and unique experience for me and also for my fellow Awardees. In this way I learnt and I am still learning. My learning will continue with me as long as I live. And I believe that would be the ultimate tribute towards the IAYP and that is what I learnt all these years, that “we must never give up on ourselves”.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Service to Humanity

“Humanity is not about maintaining a gracious relationship between one another in the society, but it is about building a bond between people in society.”

This was proved by the Silver participants of Coorg Public School, Mysore, when they were taken to the Ashram School at Thithimathi on 26 June, 2016. The twenty-six Silver participants enjoyed the companionship of students by singing and dancing with them for more than two hours. This programme infused the spirit of social service among the Silver participants.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Anti-Addiction awareness campaign & celebrating World Heart Day

‘Youth are the future torch bearers’. These words resonate that the kind of impact the youth put on the masses can not be done by anyone else. Keeping this in mind, The Aditya Birla Public School, Kotputli, organised a campaign on ‘Addiction Free World’ in Mohanpura village on 10th September 2016. All the Bronze Award participants took part in this campaign. The participants were accompanied by the Award Leader and three other teachers. The rally was organised to make the people aware of the adverse impact of drugs, smoking and drinking alcohol. The participants ran the slogans and also discussed the impact of the different types of addiction. After returning to school, the participants addressed the school staff, including the drivers, conductors and sweepers about the negative effect of smoking, drinking liquor and taking drugs. A small skit was also prepared by these participants on creating an Addiction Free World. All members of the support service staff were greatly inspired by it. Participants were also guided and mentored by the Principal, who gave suggestions on how to overcome these addictions.
Another rally on ‘World Heart Day’ was organised in nearby Mohanpura village on 1st October 2016. Forty Bronze participants took part in this rally and five mentors accompanied them. This rally was organised to make people aware of healthy food habits, the causes of heart problems and how to overcome them. During the rally the participants gave different slogans on the theme of healthy habits, causes of different heart diseases and also addressed the local inhabitants. The participants also had a discussion with elderly people of the village and gave them suggestions on how to take care of their families and protect them from different heart related problems. The villagers seemed inspired and promised to take care of their health in the future.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

International Award and Me

Ilma Jabeen, a Silver Level participant from Ansal University, Gurgaon, sharing her Award experience.

I am a civil engineering student and proud to be a part of the IAYP programme. It has helped me achieve a wholesome growth; today after completing the programme, I realise the significance and the intent behind each of these sections: Service, Skills, Physical Recreation and Adventurous Journey. As I worked through each of these sections, they inculcated in me a habit of daily physical workout; sharpened my potent skill set; helped me overcome my fears during the course of adventure trip; and I learnt the art of time management as it required a balanced regimen to practice these activities on daily basis.

Being an engineering student, I was way distant from any of the soul strengthening practices as I spend most of my time learning the theories of construction business and design of high rise infrastructure. It goes without saying that IAYP provided me with a life changing experience.

In my Service section, which lasted for a duration of 6 months, I worked for a mandir (temple) on Huda market lane, sector 56, Gurgaon. The temple has a beautiful provision for the under-privileged kids, providing them with a school facility inside the mandir itself; the school had teachers who volunteer to teach them during their spare time. I took it up as my service during my IAYP tenure. The place was at a walking distance from my PG; I visited it as and when I got off from college, but made it a point to have a disciplined visit at least twice a week. Though I was not a regular mentor, however, I tried contributing whatever best I could to it. This engendered in me a feeling of social responsibility and ignited a confidence that my “small part” too can create a difference, provided I take it up with sheer conviction.

It was the Skills section that I took up for a year under the Silver Award of IAYP, simply because I had a serious goal to accomplish under this section. I had always been more of an extrovert person, active speaker, debater and one who loves to give speeches to masses with zilch stage phobia. As ‘the law of diminishing returns’, is applicable to most of the parts of life; my oratory skills had reached a stagnation point and I was unable to morph myself from a good speaker to an influential orator, who had the power to move her audience merely with her words. Under the Skills section, I got the time to put my rigour into review and identify my drawbacks. Lack of intonation was a major bump, my pitch was high (may be by birth) but a good orator must have immense control over the pitch as there is a difference between shouting and proving a point; not all topics are a point of argument, at times it is required to state a fact in a polite, low pitched tone. I worked on it and even today I make it a point to set my tone right before I speak. Words are magical; this was a lesson I learned in one of my soft skills classes. I practiced the art of choosing the correct words to communicate during this one year: I ended up learning that “maybe you should review your work”, is a much better way to put a person on the right track than to tell them, ”You are incompetent to do this or it’s not your cup of tea.” Though I had my roadblocks listed even before IAYP happened to me but it was only because of IAYP that I could dedicate time for improving these setbacks.

My Physical Recreation had nothing to do with joining a gym or hardcore weightlifting. I made it a point to walk regularly, covering a distance of around two km (one way); this way I was able to kick start my morning with a brisk fresh walk. Skipping and cycling were also contributing to my physical activity simultaneously. But I was not satisfied with this and started on counting small steps like using stairs instead of elevators, walking over riding, etc; as it is the small pebbles that give a substantial rise to the great ocean.

IAYP Adventurous Journey was a euphoric experience for me as it was unlike the regular college trips where we ganged up with our friends or the usual family outings where every destination is predefined. It took me to Manali, a 3 days+ 2 night’s journey, embarking from Ansal University’s campus on the night of 26th September 2014. The itinerary was packed with activities I had never thought of doing: camping in a forest, trekking, river crossing, fox climbing, etc. and I found myself thrilled with adrenal rushes. The best thing about the trip was its Practice Journey during which we went trekking to the Aravali Hills near Ansal University to spot all possible challenges one can face on the Qualifying Journey, such as camping; lighting the fire and cooking meals with the meager resources; keeping the body hydrated during long trekking hours; supporting and helping fellow mates if need be; surviving emergencies such as accidents, snake bites, etc. The trip was exceptionally riveting because it had different students from different streams and it was an ultimate platform for the exchange of ideas, bonding and individual performance, which was a real self- evaluation for each and every student on the trip.

When I look back today, I can say that IAYP has given me one of the most memorable experiences of life and I can say it with pride that this Award does shape youth with the right spirit and enthusiasm, shaping their personality and building their character. Click for pictures

Award Leader Training (YES) Workshop

The International Award for Young People, India organized an Award Leader training workshop at Award Training Centre, New Delhi on 20th - 21st October, 2016.

The two-day workshop was attended by 14 participants from different institutions across India, including Homerton Grammar School, Faridabad (Haryana); Saffron City School, Phagwara (Punjab); Lady Bamford Charitable Trust, Ballabhgarh (Haryana); Billabong High International School, Kanpur (Uttar Pradesh); Vidyasagar School, Indore (Madhya Pradesh) and Amity Global School, Noida (Uttar Pradesh).

The workshop began with an ice-breaking session where the participants introduced themselves and shared their expectations from the workshop. This was followed by an introduction to the Award, and sessions on its philosophy, framework, benefits of the Award and how a volunteer can play a crucial role in the Award programme. The participants were given in-depth knowledge regarding the four domains of the programme, i.e. Skills, Service, Physical Recreation and Adventurous Journey and also the Residential Project for the Gold Level. The training team also made them familiar with other important aspects related to the Programme, which included Risk Management, Online Record Book and Brand Pack.

The workshop was led by Kapil Bhalla (National Director), Bivujit Mukhoty (Programme Manager) and Pratibha Kumari Singh (Member, National Training Panel). The workshop included interactive and fun sessions to engage with the Award Leaders. Click here for the pictures

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Award Orientation Programme at Indirapuram Public School

Kapil Bhalla, National Director and Bivujit Mukhoty, Programme Manager, delivered a Student Orientation Programme on 17th October 2016 at Indirapuram Public School, Ghaziabad. This orientation was attended by over 400 students along with the Award Leaders of the school. The orientation started with a brief introduction by Kapil Bhalla, while the Programme Manager gave details about the four sections of the Award, along with the framework and philosophy. There was a Question and Answer session in which the participants got their queries resolved. The programme was concluded with the presentation of an IAYP momento by the National Director to the Vice Principal. Click for the pictures

Monday, 17 October 2016

Ankit articulating importance of skills & his experience

When I was in class 10th, I got to know about The Award Programme through my School. I didn’t really know the importance of it back then, which I realized it later on as I completed my programme. I have learned a lot of things including teamwork, learning attitude, leadership, planning and organizing from the Programme.  It’s an amazing opportunity to develop soft skills as well as social skills which are one of the topmost requirements in the job market today.

The skills which I have gained while pursuing the programme shaped me a lot as a person. Not only that, but the Award adds a weightage in your CV by highlighting that you are capable of working in out of your comfort zone. As someone, who is currently running a skill development organization based out of Delhi, I very well understand the importance of skills and how it plays a big role in the selection of right candidates for organizations in today’s time. 

I think simply working in teams and a goal orientation prepares you for the real world in a big way and a lot of what the Award does involves the two. I have travelled a lot because of and for the Award. From villages in Haryana, conferences in Malta to International Gold Event in Seoul, every experience and every person I’ve met helped me form opinions and learn more about different cultures.  A lot of our formal education curriculum is missing some key skills and qualities that young people need to develop. The Award is a fun and comprehensive tool to get all of these opportunities in one place.  - Ankit Durga, Co-Founder, LEAP Skills Academy.

#'DofESkillsforWork #IAYPskillsforwork #skillstopaythebills #IAYPIndia #AwardIndia

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Deepest condolences on the passing of Rajan Ray, Trustee Award Programme Foundation

Mr. Rajan Ray, Trustee Member, Award Programme Foundation, passed away on 10th September, 2016.

Mr. Ray was a retired banker who held senior positions in India and overseas. He started his career with National & Grindlays Bank in 1968 and worked with them for a total of 20 years; ABN Amro Bank NV for 11 years; EODC (Asia) Ltd for 3 years and lastly Standard Chartered Bank for 2 years before retiring in 2003 after serving more then 35 years of his tenure. He was currently a non-executive director of a few companies in India and overseas. Mr. Ray joined the Award family in 2015 as member Trusteed with Award Programme Foundation.

On behalf of the IAYP, we convey our deepest condolences to the bereaved family of the departed soul Mr. Rajan Ray.

We truly discovered ourselves during this Adventurous Journey

Yashvi Agarwal, Bronze level participant from Modern High School for Girls’, Kolkata sharing her Adventurous Journey experiences with us.

With hearts full of enthusiasm and curiosity, forty nine girls from the IAYP Unit boarded the buses to set out for ‘Panchalingeshwar’ in the afternoon of 29th September, 2016. Panchalingeshwar happens to be located on the Eastern Ghats, Nilagiris to be precise. Located at a distance of 30km from Balasore in Orissa, its main claim to fame is the temple atop a hill that enshrines five Shivalingas.

Our training began early. Our very first session with Mr Mukhoty, the IAYP Programme Manager was a briefing on ‘Understanding Adventure’ and ‘Route Planning’. We learnt that self-discovery and acclimatization were the two most important aspects of adventure. This was followed by ‘The 6 km Trek’. It was quite an experience because the previous night, a herd of wild elephants had traversed the same path, leaving behind large footprints which were converted into small puddles due to the rain. The outskirts of the Singhbhum District was the end point of out trek. It was a place which had a small lake with a 20ft submerged temple built by Raja Singhavarma. This was located in the Buffer Zone of the forest of Simplipal- one of the seven tiger reserves in India. Mr Mukhoty also told us about the three most important things required for survival on a camp- food, shelter and fire. We acquired essential information about the varying types of shelters, tents and other requirements. After this each of us took active part in pitching tents which brought a feel of self satisfaction. We were then briefed on the different kinds of ropes and knots, and about the various equipments mainly throwing light on carabiners, zummers, descendeurs and pulleys. We ended our day with a session on First Aid, where we were taught that first aid was providing scientific aid to a medical victim.

The next day, we had to abstain from our daily morning activities due to heavy rain. We started our day with an interesting session on the Camping Code which included mountain manners, hut manners, etc. We learnt how important it was to respect the culture and customs of the local people of a place. This was followed by another session on the demonstration of all the important knots we had learnt about. Then we were engaged in an exciting activity- Zummering. It was an interesting experience as it was something new for most of us. Right after lunch we set out for another activity- Rappelling, some distance away from our guest house. A short session on maps and orientation was conducted before our thrilling experience of rappelling. This was followed by the camp night. We danced, we sang, we laughed, to sum up we had a gala time.

On the final morning of this very short expedition, we trekked some distance to visit the Panchalingeshwar Temple. We were told all about the beauty of the Simlipal Forest which was right next to the temple. Very soon, we headed back to the camp and having had our lunch we were ready to leave for Kolkata. Just as all good things come to an end, our camp was no exception, but I can very confidently say that we left Panchalingeshwar with memories and valuable lessons that would stay with us for a lifetime and a half. We learnt things that would help us in the future for situations we might unexpectedly encounter. We truly discovered ourselves on this journey. Thanks to all the teachers and Award Leaders who accompanied us. This trip was one of the most memorable experiences that we ever had. Click here for more pictures

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Endeavour to Elevate Village Kids

Priyanka Tiwari, an Award Leader from Mody School, Lakshmangarh, Rajasthan shares how the Programme inspired the young Award participants to come forward and serve the community.

"Youth is that wonderful time in life when energy is limitless.” These words of Swami Vivekananda resonate so well with the young girls of Mody School, who have started focussing their enormous energy towards the uplift of their local community. They have taken the responsibility to teach children in village Ghassu, one of the remotest villages in Rajasthan, under the Service Section of the Award Programme.

The village kids of Ghassu attend an antiquated local school, with the hope of creating their future. They have no exposure to the advanced world of today and are far behind the present times in terms of education and technology. When these young Award participants met them and analyzed their situation, they pledged to improve it with their efforts. These girls were taken aback when they observed their school notebooks, which explicitly depicted the pitiable condition of village schools.

These Award participants compared their own privileged education with the detriment of those village kids and developed an immediate connection with them. They began to teach them basic reading, speaking and writing skills in English, to which they all responded well after some time. Seven days a week these girls go to help them build more than language skills: their personality and self-esteem. The children over there have learnt to speak simple sentences in English. Every day they learn something new and take away a bundle of new learning to unfold before their parents.

When these Award participants met the students of Ghassu, they observed the hope in their hearts to learn more the next day. Parents from far off distances bring their children in order to make them learn something, which they can’t do in their own schools.

Thanks to IAYP, which encouraged these girls to step out of their comfort zone and serve the community. Click here for more pictures

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

IAYP Orientation Programmes and Introduction

Bivujit Mukhoty, Programme Manager, delivered a Student Orientation Programme on 2nd September, 2016 at Sir Padampat Singhania Education Centre, Kanpur. This orientation was attended by 40 Award aspirants along with the Award Leaders of the school. Mr. Virinder Singh Moudgill, Principal, also attended the orientation programme.

On 23rd September 2016, the Programme team delivered a One-day Award Leader Training Workshop to 28 participants of Vidhyashram International School, Jodhpur. The Programme Manager shared details about the four sections of the Award along with the framework and philosophy. The training was concluded by awarding the training certificates to the participants by Dr. Bharti Swami, Principal. On 24 Sep 2016, Bivujit Mukhoty visited Bodhi International School, Jodhpur and met with Jay Sharma (Principal) and introduced the Award Programme to the school.

On 26th September 2016, the Programme team visited Maxfort School, Dwarka, Delhi and The Indian Heights School, Dwarka, Delhi and delivered an Orientation Programme to Teachers and Students.

I have Witnessed a Transformational Experience

Sukanya Khan, Award Leader from Dhirubhai Ambani International School, Mumbai sharing an inspiring experience with an Award Participant.

My profession as a high school Physics teacher requires me to spend about one-third of each day with teenagers. While the process of nurturing curious young minds is intellectually very stimulating and gratifying beyond words, there have been times when looking through the one-dimensional lens of academic performance, I have felt inadequate in my understanding of a child whose world extends way beyond the confines of the classroom. So when, five years ago, the responsibility of coordinating the IAYP at my school was handed over to me, I knew that a new chapter had begun in my journey as an educator.

I had been closely associated with a number of service initiatives even before my association with IAYP began and working closely with cancer patients and their caregivers was one of them. Every week I would accompany a handful of students to the facility in the neighborhood where the volunteers would chat with the adults, play with the children and generally try and engage them with activities that would take their minds off from their illness, albeit for a brief period. In my first year as the coordinator, I witnessed a transformational experience there. A student named Aman joined this group of volunteers and after his first visit, requested me to shift him to a different service activity. He said that the sight of the patients, many of whom were amputee children, with their shaven heads was too depressing for him. His friends and my colleagues weren’t surprised by his reaction and they told me that Aman possessed neither the sensitivity nor the empathy and level of commitment required for a service activity of that kind and it was likely that the reason for his initial interest was the fact that the facility was close to his residence. I found out that in addition to being at the bottom of the pile in academics, sports and co-curricular activities, he had gotten into trouble in the past due to his irresponsible behavior. I was also made privy to the information that he had been advised to meet the counselor.

I cannot remember the reasons for my judgment on the basis of which I sat him down and requested him to visit the facility just once more with me. Once we were in the facility, I stayed next to him all the time, gently asking him to speak to the children in the local language and make an effort to make friends with them. As the afternoon came to an end, I found myself at the corner of the room opposite to where Aman was. While he was teaching Bollywood dance steps to a four year old, my eyes were welling up with pride.

Aman turned out to be the most dedicated student towards service in his entire batch. It was his idea and initiative to engage with care givers and patients in painting diyas and making greeting cards and gift pouches. The funds raised from selling those were used for purchasing sewing machines and utensils. Aman ran extensive and aggressive campaigns that in addition to cash donations, led to two computers being donated to the facility. He was one of the volunteers who taught computer skills to the inmates after school hours. Last but not the least, his painting on canvas, depicting the varied hues of life, was auctioned at the school fete and raised two lakh rupees for the patients.

It might sound like a fairy tale, but it is true that Aman’s experience at the facility through the IAYP Programme gave him the confidence that he had never experienced before. His grades began to improve and his inner turmoil found a beautiful outlet through his paintings.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Introducing IAYP at Sankalp Sahodaya South-West Delhi

Kapil Bhalla (National Director) and Priyank Kumar Gupta (Head IT and ORB) met the members of Sankalp Sahodaya South-West Delhi on 16th September 2016 at Nirmal Bhartia School, Dwarka. The aim was to introduce the Award Programme to member schools.

Sahodaya, conceptualized by CBSE in 1986, has materialized in the form of Sankalp Sahodaya South-West Delhi in May 2007. The Sahodaya has 27 member schools. Kapil Bhalla briefed the participants about the philosophy, framework, benefits and various sections of the Award to the attending principals.

Ms. Sheelu Mathew, Principal, St. Mary's School, Dwarka added the self-discovery experiences of the students who are actively involved with the Award Programme and how those experiences benefit their institution building and its growth. This orientation was one of the major steps taken in the direction of the growth and expansion strategy of the Award where all the distinguished heads, decision makers and principals of the schools were involved. The IAYP team, in days to come, look forward to initiating and organising many such orientation meeting with heads and principals of schools. Click here for more pics

Award Leader Training (YES) Workshop

The International Award for Young People, India organized an Award Leader Training workshop at the Award Training Centre on 16th and 17th September, 2016.

The two-day workshop was attended by 16 participants from different institutions across India, including Mody School, Lakshmangarh; Harvest International School, Ludhiana; Bawa Lalvani Public School, Kapurthala; Chinar Public School, Alwar; Pt. Uma Dutt Public School, Dholpur; The Aditya Birla Public School, Kotputli; New Digamber School, Indore, Pathways World School, Aravali; and DPS International School, Saket, New Delhi.

The workshop began with an ice-breaking session where the participants introduced themselves and shared their expectations from the workshop. This was followed by an introduction to the Award, and sessions on its philosophy, framework, benefits of the Award and how a volunteer can play a crucial role in the Award programme. The participants were given in-depth knowledge regarding the four domains of the programme i.e. Skills, Service, Physical Recreation and Adventurous Journey and also the Residential Project for the Gold Level. The training team also made them familiar other important aspects related to the Programme, which included Risk Management, Online Record Book and Brand Pack.

The workshop was led by Kapil Bhalla (National Director), Bivujit Mukhoty (Programme Manager), Priyank Kumar Gupta (Head IT and ORB), Pratibha Kumari Singh (Member, National Training Panel) and Ankit Durga (IGE Rep, India). The workshop included interactive and fun sessions to engage with the Award Leaders. The Programme concluded with the presentation of participation certificates given by Kapil Bhalla.

The workshop fulfilled its objective to make the potential Award Leaders develop a comprehensive understanding of The Award Programme and its functioning. Click here for the pictures

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Thank You Award for Making Me so Confident!

Gold Award Holder Anupama Das from Sri Sarada Math, Kolkata, is sharing her life transforming experience with us.

I have been associated with the Award Programme since June 2012 at Sri Sarada Math-Rasik Bhita. When I started my Award journey I was physically unfit and was very worried about the Adventurous section of the Award. In spite of this, I didn’t lose my confidence and started working hard under the remaining three sections of the Award. Gradually, as I monitored my progress, I started gaining confidence and at last got ready for my first Adventurous Journey at Susunia Hills, Bankura. I live in a small village in the Hooghly District and have never been anywhere outside my village, so, it was for the first time that I came in contact with nature outside my village, and the experience of this journey was such that I would treasure and savour all my life.

In 2015, I completed my Gold Award Journey and received my Gold Award at the Gold Award Ceremony organised at New Delhi. It goes without saying that these three years of my association with the Award not only instilled in me new confidence but also transformed my personality to a larger extent. I now see myself as a confident and assertive individual who can express her self to anyone. Sharing a personal experience from my life here would probably highlight my point better. In my society and village, the act of child marriage is very common. Girls are married at a very early age and as a result, they are not able to continue their studies. I encountered a similar situation in my life when my family forced my elder sister to get married to an unknown individual.

The Award gave me confidence to fight against this social evil and I was able to protest against this incident that was going to happen with my sister. I fought with every member of my family and convinced them to stop this early marriage. At the same time I also took the initiative to find a job for my sister so that she could start earning and begin a new chapter of her life.

It was a dark phase that I had gone through but with courage and confidence I achieved success at last. It was not easy to start a career like other girls of my city. But I am happy to write that my elder sister started working in TCS (Tata Consultancy Services) and this year after completing my graduation I too got placed in TCS. Besides this, I have also been involved with Gender Diversity Empowerment Project as an intern from our village.

I am grateful to my mentors and our Award Leader who have always supported me and encouraged me to overcome difficulties and challenges. Now, I can see transformation taking place in my village. By seeing my journey and success, most of the girls are interested in award Programme and want to continue their studies instead of getting married. I feel immense pride in being a pioneer of this initiative.

While I express my deepest gratitude to the Award, all I could say at the end is thank you Award for making me so confident!