Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Award makes for a wholesome and holistic growth of the young people.

The IAYP Showcasing reflects the whole experience of the Award Programme during the year, which gives a great confidence to the participants, because of the skills they acquire, the emotion quotient that they get out of being with the group together and the community participation that plays a pivotal role. The young people do many activities and when they associated with the Award, they got a chance to do many more, as they are not stuck in only academics; they develop a well rounded character. I would say that, doing the Award programme individually and doing it as a group gives one a feeling of belonging. It gives a feeling of well-being and all that put together makes for a wholesome and holistic growth of the young people.
Dr. Annie Koshi, Principal, St. Mary's School, Safdarjung Enclave, New Delhi

Showcasing IAYP at ST Mary’s School, Safdarjung Enclave

St. Mary's School, Safdarjung Enclave, Delhi organises biannual IAYP Showcasing. This year the event was organised on 23rd February 2017. Tanishakha Singh, Bronze Award, shares a report on this event.

At St. Mary’s Safdarjung Enclave, Delhi, IAYP is equivalent to celebrating a variety of skill sets, and the biannual showcasing is the time when all IAYP Participants come together to showcase their spirit and valour. On 23rd February, 2017, we came together and co-created this space to collaborate and represent our newly learned skills sets, our immersion with the community, and our physical fitness through various creative means.

To celebrate this occasion with us we had Prof Sumangala Damodaran, Dean of the School of Development Studies, Ambedkar University, Delhi and Mr. Kapil Bhalla, National Director, IAYP. The different clubs used a designated space within the school campus, and they used this creatively to depict their learning. To boost our motivation, our parents were also present.

The presentations were all done by the students and so was the coordination, ushering and compering, therefore, this gave us an idea the idea that not only helped to hone our leadership skills but also student participation and teamwork. The ushers Devanshi Sharma and Deepti Ghosh led the gathering of guests to various locations to display the work.

The photography club had displayed various pictures clicked by the students and Silver level Participant Chirag Wadhwa led the group in explaining the meaning of various photographs; we received wide acclaim from the guests. The physical recreation group presented a rare display of kinaesthetic and psychomotor abilities clubbed with complex coordination.

The crafts clubs had used simple media to depict illustrations in the works of Devdutt Patnaik, it was interesting to see the works displayed through folders that were very handy for usage. The painting group had presented some interesting creations on one of the school walls and the young artists explained its importance to all. The sculpture skills group presented their creations, which were amazingly carved out faces. The faces were presented in a very interesting manner by the group.

The western music group, Hindustani vocals and instrumental and dance clubs made their presentation in the auditorium. Bronze Awards and Silver Award Participants Retika, Nitiksha and Juveriya were instrumental in binding together the various club performances and presentations.  The Hindustani vocals and instrumentals presented a very motivating song by Indian People’s Theatre Association.

The community service group had presented a very impacting and strong play on the farmers’ issue, which is highly relevant to the current context; the most hard hitting lines were, “we all aspire to become, doctors etc, but we do not realise that it is farmers that we need the most for our sustainability.” This way they stressed on the need for dealing with the farmer suicides and debates. The ecology club had set up an assortment of techniques to spread organic lifestyle, for instance, there was a demonstration of extracting rose syrup and using the same for flavouring rassgulla. These techniques are highly useful for arresting climate change and environmental degradation.

Later our guest of honour Prof. Damodaran, who is a prominent figure in the performance arts circle led the group to sing “jhoom jhoom ke nacho gao” which was highly motivating for us. At the end we were served some wonderful dishes made by the cooking club.

The showcasing gave a great impetus to our energy and more and motivated us to continue to aspire for larger and more challenging goals. Click here for pictures....

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Award Leader Reflections on the Award

Md Irfan, Gold Award holder 
“The Award has really taught us to utilize our leisure time in a constructive way in order to have a productive outcome at the end of the day. I personally liked the Skills section the most; I took up Embroidery and by the time I completed the 3 levels, Embroidery had transformed from my Hobby to my Skill, and now it is my Profession, and for that, I am really thankful to the Award.”

Md Imran, Gold Award holder 
“I really know how encouraging it is to be praised and recognized for something I’ve done, be it a little pat on the back after a long trek or an Award after the completion of a level. And of course, receiving my Gold Award from the Vice-President of India is one of the greatest moments of my life. When I realize that a lot of well-established people don’t get the honour of meeting Dr. Hamid Ansari, I feel it has been a miracle for me; that’s precisely what the Award has taught me, that miracles are achievable.”

The Award transformed me

Juzer A Shaikhally

Looking Looking back to year 1976…. the first time my class ever heard of the name DEAS, when Cdr T. Almedia came to our school to present the Award Programme. Even though I was in the Scouts and member of the School Mountaineering Club, the reason I joined was the aspect of self-motivation of the Programme and Adventurous Journey. My Award Journey was from 1976 to 1979 where I made new friends and completed my Bronze, Silver and Gold. Undertaking the various sections during my Award journey helped me in many ways in looking at the same problem with different angles. The Social Service section helped me to give my spare time to others in society and even today, when time permits, I do help out with the programme Teach India. The Adventurous Journey section got me out from my inner self. This section, during my time, was the most sought after section. It did make one realise their true motivation and the limits one can go to. At all three levels we had to cook all meals and I have had the pleasure of moving around Maharashtra in the interior regions too.

Marksmanship as my Skill taught me to be cool, calm, patient… I was really happy that finally I could make it to the All India Shooting Competition level. The Physical Recreation session under the Physical Efficiency Test would bring all boys in the Award Pogramme every Friday evening, which we looked forward to. Residential Qualification was really the turning point where I met different people from Maharashtra staying together for a period of 5 days and undertaking the cleaning  of our Award Campsite at Matheran.

Even though I did follow in my Dad’s footsteps by joining him in business, my lust for the outdoor, which I had developed through the Award Programme, made me start an Adventure Company with my friend as partner; this later became a proprietary concern and at present, for the past two years, I am affiliated with Adventure Tours firm in Mumbai as an Adventure Programme Manager handling more than 750 schools in India. Having gone through the Award programme in many stages as a Volunteer, Asst. Regional Officer, Award Leader, on the Committee of the GAHS, West Zone Award Authority, it has given me great satisfaction that I have helped many young people going through the Award Programme and helped change their lives. Many still do call me up and even come to meet me whenever they are in town. Our Gold Batch of 1979 does still meet at least twice a year and we look back to our golden years that we all spent together while participating in the Award Programme.

Yes it has given me the bread and butter in my life, maybe I am a changed person and I do wonder if I had not undergone the Award Programme, would I still be out in the Nature, Wild... always making new friends every week… or… sitting behind a desk doing a normal 9 to 5 job… Yes I do have a lot to pen down… it did bring back memories and tears… even the first International Walsall UK Exchange in the year 1980/1981…. I am in touch with my friends from Walsall…..

Yes the Award has transformed me from the quiet, shy boy I was in school, to who I am in the present.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Award Leader Reflections on the Award

Biswajit Ghosh, Principal of Rama Krishna Mission Blind Boys’ Academy, Kolkata
The most striking feature of the Award is that it is non-competitive, which infuses a sense of togetherness and selflessness among the youngsters, who generally face competition in every juncture of life. This not only helps the young adults bring out their best but also instills a sense of belonging to the society at large.

Adrija Chatterjee, Gold Award holder, IAYP Youth Representative 
“The Award lets us know ourselves and our latent potentials. It develops a desire in the young Awardee to push one’s own self a bit further to achieve something in life. Most of the girls in our institution have to endure a lot of external challenges and pressures to continue with the Award, but in the end, the achievement really pays for it. And as for myself, I think the Gold Award, or rather the Award Journey itself has been one of the most important achievements in my life.”

Earning while Learning

The Award Programme Foundation is supporting a skill development programme for the development of rural areas under the Gender Diversity Empowerment Project. Areas like Singur, Baladbandh, and Kumroguri are under this project. Through this project young girls learn skills like making handmade jewellery (earrings, bangles, clips and necklaces) by the paper quilling method and other paper craft skills. These products are also sent to various fairs, offices, and stalls for selling. The girls earn some money as after selling these items the profit is distributed equally among the girls. Through this financial help the girls are able to help their family for a better living.
Some Award Participants from Baladbandh village have chosen “Paper Making -- Pen Stand” as their Skill for the programme. They made different types of pen stands using paper. They were allowed to sell these products at Kredent Tower, Kolkata on 24th March, 2017. Senior HR Executive of Tata Business Support Service Smt. Shivani Goswami visited them and appreciated the work and creative ideas of the awardees. She decided to use these handmade pen stands as gifts for some activities of the company.
From January to March 2017 these Participants sold the items at different fairs and earned around ten thousand ruppes. This amount was equally distributed amont the 30 awardees of Baladbandh village. Through this initiative many families have benefited. The project is helping these girls to develop the skills and earn while they learn.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The International Gold Event (IGE) 2017

25th October – 30th October 2017 at Prague, Czech Republic

The International Gold Event (IGE) has evolved over the years into an advanced training programme on soft skills, service projects and cultural exchange events, and now focusing on leadership development for its delegates.
This year, this much-awaited event, IGE-2017 will be held in Prague, Czech Republic, on the theme of “Engaging a younger generation in our sustainable future”.
The Foundation is working on creating a provocative programme, planning field visits to provide delegates with the opportunity to discuss the challenges faced by young people, and deciding the effective application of the Award for a sustainable future within their local, national, regional and global communities.
Gold Award holders are encouraged to plan their applications to participate in this mega event. Application form is available here. More details on IGE-2017 can be obtained from

Award Leader Reflections on the Award

Prabhnoor Khurana, Confluence World School, Rudrapur 
"My experience so far has been full of learning in these two days of training. To say that I was in need of such a programme that would enhance my skills and provide a better understanding of youth empowerment, would not be incorrect. While attending the workshop there have been some queries and doubts, however, with the passage of time and working in the field, they would be resolved. I feel that this youth development programme provides a wonderful platform to hone skills, confidence level, team spirit, and leadership qualities of young ones. For me, in simple terms, IAYP represents leaving our comfort zone to get the best out of us."

Aasheesh Rawat, Snow Leopard Adventures Pvt. Ltd., Gurgaon 
"This is one of the best experiences of my life. I learned a lot from this two-day workshop. I feel this is a very useful programme for youth and their bright future. It enhances their level of service to the community, skills set, the level of confidence, and teamwork."

Plantation Drive

"A tree can supply a day’s oxygen for four people."

Nature has been one of the greatest sources of energy for living creatures. We are indeed blessed and privileged to reside in the heart of a wonderful, attractive and eco-friendly environment. Staying in this beautiful paradise proves to be extremely therapeutic and tranquilizing and also motivates one to give back to the environment what it gives us humans so generously and selflessly. Planting trees is one such act of contributing towards the greenery of our surroundings.

Armed with lots of enthusiasm, energy, and thankfulness, the Award participants from The Sagar School, Alwar, wholeheartedly invested time and energy in the plantation drive aimed at a clean and fresh environment. The participants planted these saplings with the hope that, with time, they will blossom into plants and trees, adding beauty to nature and providing food for animals.

The need of the hour is to sensitize people towards promoting afforestation and preventing deforestation to save the world. Click for pictures

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Training Workshop for Trained Activity Service Providers for IAYP

The National Award Authority organized a two-day Training Workshop for Trained Activity Service Providers for IAYP & ITAP license and interested Award Leaders of YES Centres to operate Adventurous Journeys and Residential Projects. Eleven participants from nine institutions: The British Co-Ed High School, Patiala; The Aga Khan Academy, Hyderabad; Adventure Education Tours (Mumbai) Pvt.Ltd., Mumbai; Global Travellers Guild, Kolkata; Snow Leopard Adventures Pvt. Ltd., Gurgaon; Juniper Wings, Kolkata; Inside Passage, Dehra Dun and Holiday Moods Adventures Pvt Ltd., New Delhi participated in the workshop on 10th - 11th March 2017.

The workshop was a blend of field work, classroom lecture and demonstration, covering various aspects of the Adventurous Journey and the Residential Project, in which the participants gained knowledge of the need and requirements for the same. The evening session before the bonfire was on the Role of the Assessor and the Supervisor, a critical input for a successful Adventurous Journey.

Day two activities started with an Adventurous & Exploration Journey, where the participants took part in trekking and exploration. This session included the learning and demonstration of the Preliminary Training, Practice Journey and Qualifying Journey, followed by a drill on Recording and Management of the Diary. There were Q&A sessions where the participants shared their experience and the problems that they come across during the AJ, and the NAA Team helped them in finding solutions. The workshop was mentored by Bivujit Mukhoty (Programme Manager). and Priyank Kumar Gupta (Head IT & ORB) The workshop concluded with the presentation of certificates by the IAYP National Director. Click to view pictures

Award Leader Reflections on the Award

Prabhudatta Lenka, Hopetown Girls' School, Dehradun 
"The two-day YES workshop based on practical hands-on experience and visually memorable training material given to the Award Leaders proved to be a complete learning experience for me. I think with the effective way in which the training was imparted and all the sections explained, this becomes one of the best sessions that I have ever attended. I feel grateful."

Samrat Chakrabarty, Sports Coordinator, Oakridge International School, Visakhapatnam 
"The Award brings in diverse experiences for the most vulnerable and able generation, which gives them stability and proper direction. It connects them with all spheres unexplored to give them a first-hand experience. Also, the Award equally helps in building character and shaping the personality of young people."

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Award Leader Reflections on the Award

Saiyed Moallim, French Teacher at Templeton Academy International, Naukuchiatal 
"IAYP in my view is an excellent software required to develop the present youth into the well managed and independent global citizen. Through this Programme, I feel we can help each and every young person regardless of their upbringing or surrounding. There is a lot of hope and possibility for better opportunities to be explored through this Platform."

Umed Singh, Snow Leopard Adventures Pvt. Ltd., Gurgaon 
"I have heard for the very first time about the IAYP Programme. I feel that that the Award provides immense opportunities for growth and development of Young people and makes them ready for their aspiring career and bright future. I am all eager to know more about the Award."

Adventurous Journey help gain confidence

Silver level Award participants from Olcott Memorial School, Chennai completed their Adventurous Journey from 27th - 29th January 2017. A brief report on their AJ.

Forty-three, Silver level Award participants assembled at the school campus with great excitement on 27th January 2017 by 5.30 am, looking forward to spending the next three days at Amirthi forest by taking part in trekking and other adventurous activities under their Adventurous Journey section of their Award Programme.

The enthusiastic group of participants left the school for Vellore. On reaching the forest, participants were grouped and allotted accommodation. They were briefed about the Adventurous Journey Section and activities by the mentors. The activities started with participants trekking a few kilometres before commencing the river crossing activity. Every participant participated in this activity with great enthusiasm and vigor. This was followed by a short trek to a nearby village where participants interacted with the villagers and learned about their lifestyle and culture. After dinner, they had a circle time where each of them was asked to share about themselves and showcase their individual talents before going to bed.

The following day began with a physical exercise session. After breakfast, the participants commenced their 7 km long trek up a hill to reach a village. They enjoyed the natural scenic beauty, the flora, and fauna of the place before interacting with the local community to know about their lifestyle.

The third day also began with physical exercise. This inculcated a sort of discipline among the participants. After breakfast, they trekked along the river to climb a small mountain using ropes and enjoyed the rappelling activity. The participants also took part to river crossing activity in the river before trekking back to their campsite.

This Adventurous Journey, away from their home and routines helped the participants to gain confidence, improve their interpersonal skill and personality development. On 29th the group headed back to Chennai with fond memories and with a boost their self-confidence. Click to view pictures

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Award Leader Reflections on the Award

Jai Vir Singh, Snow Leopard Adventures Pvt. Ltd., Gurgaon 
"This Award Programme is very good for students since it helps in their overall development. I think the four sections of the Award: Service, Skills, Physical Recreation and Adventurous Journey, help students experience things and also try things out of their comfort zone, which is important for their growth and development. These sections provide them a choice to select the best option giving them a competitive advantage. The Award challenges them and teaches them how to set realistic goals and then achieve them."

Krushna Oh Behra, Templeton Academy International, Naukuchiatal 
"This Award Programme provides opportunities to youth where through experiential learning they learn what is good and what is bad for them. They learn what is important and unimportant for them. They understand what path to choose and how to move with confidence on the set path by setting the right goals. This programme is instrumental in their growth and leading them on the path of progress."

A Journey to Self-Discovery

A real contribution that makes a difference

Participants of Bawa Lalvani Public School (BLPS), Kapurthala (Punjab) have registered for the Bronze Level of the Awar

d and taken on a mission to make a real contribution to society and make a difference through their work. Ms. Ekta Dhawan, Principal, Bawa Lalvani Public School, Kapurthala, shares the report of the work undertaken by the Bronze level participants.

The Award is an exciting self-development programme available to all young people worldwide, equipping them with life skills and exposing them to make a difference to their lives and their 
communities. In one such endeavour to make a difference, the Bronze Award participants 
from BLPS have been devoting their time, love and care to the underprivileged children of village Kokalpur, Distt. Kapurthala. Each Award participant of the group has taken a pledge to make a difference to the life of at least one child of the village. These participants are enthusiastically engaged in teaching them, grooming them and also creating awareness among children about good health and well-being, a balanced diet, good toilet habits, air-borne diseases and water-borne diseases. They have been educating the village about different ways of administering first-aid in case of a snakebite, insect bite etc. They use their pocket money to buy things for their buddy in the village and make them feel responsible for their individual growth and development.

These engagements of Bronze level participants have not only made a difference in their levels of confidence and self esteem but has also made a difference in the lives of the children from the village. They look forward to meeting with their IAYP buddies and learning from them.

We are very grateful to IAYP for arousing in the young minds the urge to serve the community.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Away From Home

Twenty Award participants from Manav Vikas High School, Jamshedpur completed their Adventurous Journey from 23rd to 26th January 2017 to Bisindha. Kalyani Chakraborty, the Award Leader from Manav Vikas High School is sharing this report with us.

The Award participants of Manav Vikas High School were buzzing with excitement very early in the morning at the school grounds, eager to get away from the monotonous classroom study and ready to embark on their IAYP Adventurous Journey. There were twenty participants and two mentors. The journey started from Tata Nagar station at 7:30 am and we reached Asansol at 12 noon. The further journey was through a local train up to Ranigunj and then by bus to Bisindha. 

Award participants from Emmanuel Ministries, Kolkata were also attending this camp with us. We were all guided by Soumitra Ganguly up to Bisindha. Bisindha turned out to be a perfect place for camping, far away from the maddening crowd. There were many tiny hills in the surrounding area. We reached the campsite around 2 pm. After lunch Asim Nath, the instructor from the Institute of Climbers and Nature Lovers (ICNL) started the camp activities. He explained and demonstrated the different kinds of knots, rope obstacles, jungle etiquette and how to behave with villagers. The participants were happy to find all this new information and kept sharing this new learning throughout the night with their other team members and new friends. The students of Emmanuel Ministries also joined these lively discussions. Though the night was very cold, it didn't dampen the enthusiasm of the young students, who sang and played background music (Hukka hua). The night experience was indeed memorable and thrilling.

On 24th January, the day activities started at 6 am. All of us trekked to the surrounding areas, climbed small hills and did some morning exercise. Exhausted after all these activities, we took a deep breath of fresh air and saw the sunrise, before we returned to the campsite. After breakfast, we started our journey to Bandwan Dam, which was 8 kilometers away from the campsite. We reached Bandwan Dam at 10 am and our instructor, Imran divided all the participants into 7 groups. This was an SOS activity where the participants were asked to make food for themselves. The participants gathered firewood and fetched water from the dam and made an oven with mud; then they cooked their own food. After completing all these activities, we returned to the campsite at 3 pm. A theoretical class was scheduled for the evening, where the ICNL instructors detailed the Do's and Don'ts of camping.

On 25th January, we all trekked to the surrounding areas in the early morning. After breakfast, we all went to Susunia Hill for rock climbing under the guidance of Somnath Saha, Soumitra Ganguly and Partha Sengupta (all ICNL instructors). The participants enjoyed their evening around a campfire. Everyone participated, performed and enjoyed themselves. On 26th January we left Bisindha after breakfast.

This Adventurous Journey empowered the participants to develop the ability to focus and be determined to achieve any goal and be ready to face any challenges in the real world.

Award Leader Reflections on the Award

Mayank, Snow Leopard Adventures Pvt. Ltd., Gurgaon 
"I had absolutely no idea what this Award was all about before I joined it. I credit the organisation that I have been associated with that led me to join this Award Programme as an Award Leader. I can firmly say that the things I do in my life are similar with the working of IAYP, but now that I have received my Award Leader Training, I understand and appreciate the programme."

Pramjeet Kaur, TGT Science, Sat Paul Mittal School, Ludhiana 
"Attending this two-day IAYP workshop was an enlightening experience for me. As teachers and educators, it's very easy for us to make complaints about the issues faced by us in classroom settings. But after attending this workshop, I feel that most of the issues could be addressed if we can empower, equip and engage our students through this Programme. I feel, through this Programme, the youth will not only be able to identify their own potential and hone their skills to sustain livelihood but would also be able to channelise their energies collectively to lead the whole nation on the path of progress. This programme would give the right platform to channelise the youth of India and provide them the opportunities for growth."

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Award Leader Reflections on the Award

Shefali Chawla, Chemistry Teacher, Chinar Public School, Alwar 
"The IAYP Award Programme provides ample opportunities to the youth. It helps in enhancing their skills and builds their self-confidence. It exposes them to different things in their lives by providing experiential learning, which stays throughout their lifetime."

Amit Jain, Director, Oakridge International School, Visakhapatnam 
"India is a country of youth and the youth are a bundle of super energy. This two-day workshop made me realize that IAYP is the right magnifying lens to make the youth focus this energy in achieving not only their personal goals but also to make India a super power."

The Award programme underscores the social component of education

IAYP organised a two-day National Training Workshop (NTW) on 9th - 10th February 2017 at the Lalaji Memorial Omega International School, Kolapakkam, Chennai. Eighteen participants from Lalaji Memorial Omega International School, Kolapakkam, Chennai; Canadian International School, Bangalore; and Olcott Memorial School, Chennai attended the workshop.

During the workshop, Dr S Bhavanishankar, Senior Principal, Lalaji Memorial Omega International School, Chennai spoke about how the Award helps young people discover themselves and unleash their potential. "The best part of the Award Programme is that the participants get exposure to essential skills and they also understand the social component of education. The International Award for Young People focuses strongly on the social element, which I feel is essential for a young person to become a citizen with the empathy needed to show towards his fellows and to the community. This also affords senior students the opportunity to explore who they are as emerging adolescents, and try to understand what their capabilities are, what their specific avocation and their interests are. It also raises levels of awareness, teaches them how to engage productively and with a mode of consciousness in taking risks. Effectively, it’s a programme that offers all-round development of a young person.

This workshop underscored the importance of this Leading Youth Programme for the development of youth, channelising their energy, shaping their personality and building their character by engaging them through different sections of the Award and preparing them for a bright future. Click here for pictures...

Kindness in giving creates love

Satyans (Sat Paul Mittal School) of the IAYP club believe that “Kindness in words creates confidence, Kindness in thinking creates profoundness, and Kindness in giving creates love." And truly, this is just the beginning.

The journey began on 29th July, 2016 when the IAYP Club students at Sat Paul Mittal School volunteered to assist the authorities in their campaign of empowerment through Information Technology Literacy. The students designed placards on the Alphabet, Colours, Sports, Fruits and Vegetables to enhance the learning process of the specially-abled students. Dummy Keyboards were also made by students of the IAYP Club and gifted to help students in recognizing the letters of the alphabet and numbers on the keyboard. The outcome of this effort is visible now. Twenty-two students have achieved the minimum levels of Data Entry and have begun their journey to independence.

As part of the last lap, the Satyans of the IAYP club were at Aashriwad on 24 January, 2017 to donate the proceeds raised through the sale of 700 diyas, 100 envelopes, and 50 paper bags. In an endeavour to support the cause, Satyans purchased the diyas, painted and decorated them and sold them on Sports Day at the school campus. With the funds raised the school purchased two ASUS notebooks.

It was a heart warming sight when the two ASUS notebooks were handed over to Ms. Sanam Mehra, member on the advisory board Aashriwad and Ms. Reshma, Coordinator of the IAYP Programme. Satyans have been working very closely with the AMBA Project initiated at Aashriwad. This project is truly an empowerment project, where 22 students are being trained to pursue data entry as their profession. It aims at moving the students from Dependence to Independence. More pictures can be found here.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

The Award helped me to discover myself

Srishti Agarwal, a Silver Level Award participant from Billabong High International School, Bhopal completed her Adventurous Journey at Rishikesh. Here, Srishti is sharing her experience of interacting with nature. 

I was born in the urban jungle. A silent addition to our modernized civilization hurling through chaos and drowning in the hoots and honks of the 21st century. The cement, the concrete, the bricks, the skyscrapers taller than trees, the pollution encasing the stars and a patch of grass that we called ‘nature’. The city ran in my veins deeper than blood.

But, years later when I turned 16, I was obliged to go to for my IAYP Adventurous Journey camp in Rishikesh and spend about a week there. It was actually a ‘back to nature’ initiative, which seems my worst nightmare, as I chose to describe it. Away from the city, completely detached from ‘life’ was not my idea of either a ‘frolic’ or a ‘serene’ outing. Yet, what has to be done, needs to be done. And so I left Bhopal for Hardwar, with a heavy heart and a weary sigh. The train journey was brimming with boredom but it was lesser of the two evils as the stay would surely be far more torturous.

The morning that we, the seventy Award participants along with 5 mentors, reached Haridwar was by far the most uneventful day for the remaining time was spent in commuting to the camp site -- beside the Ganges and surrounded by thick forests. I truly felt ‘caged’, like a person left in isolation, who can shout all they want, but in the end, it’s like speaking to a void. But as nightfall approached, something changed. Sitting by the fire, reading a book, (yes, indeed!) Waiting for the cell phone reception, I noticed for the first time in the sky, a constellation, Aries. The stars, those plain asteroids, shone brighter than any light and the moon was stupendously beautiful, bathing our camp site in the light I can only describe as ethereal. Not a sound was heard, apart from the easy wind and the rustle of leaves. There in that moment, I felt the closest to peaceful. Perhaps, it was the state of my mind, drunk with fatigue as I was or there actually was a connect that I could feel to that evening sky and the never-ending forest. Solitude… the absolute solitude that I had feared all my life, now seemed comforting. As if I was a child, being cradled by a mother. In Urdu, they talk of a deep soul connection that cannot be explained called ‘Roohani’ and for the first time, I could understand what my grandfather had been referring to as I recalled our past conversations. I could understand why Robert Frost found pleasure in the ‘dark and deep woods’ and why Wordsworth was so enamoured by Mother Nature.

All my time at Rishikesh -- everything and every day, passed like a whirlwind between adventure sports and team building activities. Rafting, rock climbing and even the nature treks were anything but generic. The thrill of braving through the roaring and rumbling Ganga in a measly raft and almost falling off on the raging rapids or descending down an almost vertical rock at a 90-degree angle changed my perspective towards life. Fragile and transient as it is, The forest walks were long, running over steep hills and ramshackle grounds; they left us gasping for air and thirsty as the Sahara, yet the picturesque landscapes and the sheer beauty of the morning sun were enough balms for all our wounds and bruises. Admittedly, the Flying Fox and Valley Crossing were my favourites. Hanging by a wire, cutting through the air at top speed and traversing between two hills while dangling in mid-air were as exhilarating and liberating as can be.

However, it was my late night rendezvous with myself that somehow made me feel ‘infinite.’ Even the Ganga seemed to hold more meaning to me and in its swiftly flowing waters, I could see clearly a reflection of my own life, passing me by. Those waters, sprinkled in every Hindu household on an auspicious/ joyous occasion are also the final resting places of a human being’s ashes. Only now could I fully comprehend the majesty and sanctity of that river.

But like all good things that must come to an end so did my sojourn at Rishikesh. Its memories, I shall carry with me forever. The Adventurous Journey experience proved to me how I had been a prisoner of my own device and how I had restricted definitions of the ‘world’, ‘life’, ‘home’. At 16 I discovered for myself that there are such brief instances, these small turnings in the weary road with no windings, such places which prompted the poet to declare “Hamin asto, Hamin asto, Hamin asto….” Click here for more pictures

Award Leader Reflections on the Award

Ritu Bhargava from Chinar Public School, Alwar spoke about how the Award helps young people discover themselves and unleash their potential. 

"Attending this workshop has really been very enlightening for me to understand how harnessing young people's energy could bring transformational changes in them, and is a constructive use of time. I firmly believe that if I can make young people of my area associated with the Award, they would be better, improved people and it will not only help them find their means of learning but also help them discover themselves and realise their potential to achieve a higher sense of satisfaction and allow them to lead a better life. It will definitely inculcate in them a sense of responsibility towards society and its needs."

The Award inculcates a sense of responsibility towards society

IAYP organised a two-day National Training Workshop (NTW) on 2nd and 3rd February 2017 at the Award Training Centre, New Delhi. Thirteen participants from seven institutions, Hopetown Girls' School, Dehradun; Oakridge International School, Visakhapatnam; Chinar Public School, Alwar; Confluence World School, Rudrapur; Sat Paul Mittal School, Ludhiana; Snow Leopard Adventures Pvt. Ltd., Gurgaon, and Templeton Academy International, Naukuchiatal attended the workshop.

During the workshop, Ritu Bhargava from Chinar Public School, Alwar spoke about how the Award helps young people discover themselves and unleash their potential. "Attending this workshop has really been very enlightening for me to understand how harnessing young people's energy could bring transformational changes in them, and is a constructive use of time. I firmly believe that if I can make young people of my area associated with the Award, they would be better, improved people and it will not only help them find their means of learning but also help them discover themselves and realise their potential to achieve a higher sense of satisfaction and allow them to lead a better life. It will definitely inculcate in them a sense of responsibility towards society and its needs."

This workshop underscored the importance of this Leading Youth Programme for the development of youth, channelising their energy, shaping their personality and building their character by engaging them through different sections of the Award and preparing them for a bright future. Click here for pictures...

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Difference between those who care and those who don’t

“What matters today is not the difference between those who believe and those who don't, but the difference between those who care and those who don’t.”

Award participants from Bawa Lalvani Public School, Kapurthala visited and offered their services at the Kusht Ashram (Leprosy Home) in Kapurthala on 20th January 2017. Below is a report from Ms. Ekta Dhawan, Principal, Bawa Lalvani Public School, Kapurthala.

The aim of the IAYP programme is to ‘equip youth for life’. Young people, through this project, work with socially and economically disadvantaged people or people with physical disabilities through activities of the Award Programme. Association through these activities encourages independence, inter-dependence and self-helpamong socially isolated people.

To sensitize the students about the people suffering from leprosy and to boost the morale of the patients and their families, BLPS organised a visit to Kusht Ashram, Kapurthala for Award participants. The staff of the Ashram introduced them to the patients and their families. The participants had healthy conversations with the patients and their families and had a first-hand knowledge of their experiences and lives of people with leprosy.

The Award participants, along with their mentors and parents, have made volunteering for Kusht Ashram a part of their Social Service experience. Parents have helped in preparing the lunch boxes, articles of daily needs (comb, soap, toothbrush) and financial help. The participants, along with teachers, offered help for daily grooming, such as changing their clothes, combing their hair and cutting the nails of physically disabled people and cleaning their surroundings. The participants purchased food items for the patients. This contribution meant a lot to the inmates of the leprosy home.

Medical treatment has brought leprosy under control everywhere in the world but there is still deep-rooted discrimination against those affected by this disease. The Award participants have pledged to serve them in their struggle and to truly overcome such discrimination.

As a weekly affair, the Award participants have decided to enthusiastically participate in the collection for these victims of leprosy. Through this, the participants learn to care of others and understand the importance of contributing to one’s community. It gives them an opportunity to change lives, perhaps even their own, and understand what it means to 'equip for life.'

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Special Project

A Report by Adrija Chatterjee, Coordinator Special Project

The Award has transformed the lives of millions of youth across the globe. The Gender Diversity & Empowerment Project for Women run by Award Programme Foundation in areas like Hoogli, Singur, Baladbandh, and Kumroguri of West Bengal is a special project which aims to engage young girls in learning skills like handmade jewellery making (earrings, bangles, clips and necklaces) through the paper quilling method, thereby enhancing their economic prospects and empowering them with life skills.

This report delineates how the girls have been working in the four sections of the Award and how the Award equips them with life skills, through which they feel self-dependent and empowered.

Skill Development 
The Skill Development Project started among the Award Participants of Baladbandh Village in February 2015 with the support of the Award Programme Foundation (APF). Fourteen Silver, Bronze and Gold Award Participants of Baladbandh chose jewellery making for their skill section. APF sanctioned the fund of Rs. 20,000/- for this project, in which girls started to make handmade jewellery with this support and sold their products in different areas and fairs of Kolkata. 

Day by day their sale is improving and so is the confidence among the girls. They are able to manage their daily requirements through their earnings. With the passing of the year, the number of girls in this project increased to 18 and as a team they made a profit of Rs. 6000/-. Girls are getting remuneration through this project and it helps them to buy their own necessary goods. Moreover, this year we distributed Rs. 4000/- among the 18 girls and the rest of the amount will be added with the capital.

It was a wonderful opportunity for the girls of Baladbandh to sell their handmade jewellery under the banner of Rasik Bhita Chhatrimangal. CSR of Mjunction (Joint Venture of Tata Steel & Steel Authority of India) Smt. Piya Dutta Nandi arranged a small sale counter at the office premises of Mjunction on 8th and 9th September, 2016. Silver Award Participant Rikta Dutta and Gold Award Participant Bonnya Soren (an Adivasi girl) participated in that programme.

Physical Recreation 
Award Participants from our different units do yoga regularly under the guidance of their yoga instructor Smt. Champa Kundu. Some of them had breathing trouble before but after doing yoga their fitness and health has improved and they also find interest in it. Girls have different medical issues as teenagers and these kind of physical activities help them to face problems. Some Award Participants from Baladbandh unit are going to perform a yoga-based dance in the coming inauguration of the library section of Baladbandh.

Social Service 
Award Participants from different units are doing various types of social work under this section. Sometimes they spend quality time with the old people. Sometimes they clean garbage and keep the locality clean.

Developing the community through the service, Award Participants visit interior villages once a week and convince the adults to learn. This journey started in the year 2015 with five aged women. The number has now swelled to more than thirty. The women of different villages are now able to write their own names and can draw cash from the bank by signing their names. These women now inspire their children to learn and try to give education to them. Award Participants of Kumrogori and Baladbandh teach poor children from different villages.

Adventurous Journey 
Participants for Bronze, Silver and Gold also completed their Adventurous Journey successfully. To qualify for their Bronze level 72 Bronze Award Participants went to Bisindha Hills, Bankura (West Bengal) in January 2015. The next month 48 girls went to Matha Hills – Purulia District (West Bengal) for qualifying for their Silver Level in February 2016. In July 2016, 15 Gold Award Participants participated in the trek to Tumling.  Click here for more pictures

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

I Feel Confident and Responsible, Thanks to the Award

I am Rima Pakira from the Baladbandh village, Hooghly District, West Bengal, India. I have been associated with the Award Programme since 2013. Last year was very special for me and for my three friends because we got this opportunity to participate in the camp of Bisindha organised between 24th and 28th December, 2016 to complete our Residential Project as Gold Award participants.

I have attended camps in past, but the camp of Bisindha was quite different from the others. In this camp, for the first time I got to know the actual meaning of the word “Responsibility”. I learnt how to finish any task within the stipulated time and in a proper manner. As a Gold participant, I had to look after the new participants, who were attending this camp for the very first time.

I handled that responsibility very well. Moreover, I also learnt how to look after and take care 
of youngsters and at the same time, understood how to guide them effectively for every activity undertaken as part of the Residential Project. The overall experience of this project made me more confident and responsible than I was. Now I have already taken on an initiative to run our next skill development project with a small team of people from my village. This team will learn how to make different products using wax, under the guidance of our Award Leader and interns of IAYP. Thanks to the Award for instilling in me new confidence and making me responsible!

The Foundation's Communications Team Visit India

IAYP India welcomes members of the communication team: Marianna Davis and Emma Fisher from The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award Foundation. The Team is visiting India from 15th January to 22nd January 2017.

During their stay in India, the team visited NAZ Foundation's community site and the Adventurous Journey Camp organised for participants of JCB Sponsored Government Schools in Delhi. Subsequently, they plan to visit Emmanuelle Ministries Kolkata, Sharda Math and Ramakrishna Blind Boys' Academy, Kolkata; and ISPG-assisted Gender Diversity Empowerment Project, Kolkata.
On the first day of the visit, the team met with the Award Leaders of NAZ Foundation and witnessed the Award in action, empowering young girls as part of NAZ India Goal Project. On the 17th the team visited Rocksports Camp, Tikkling where the NAA organised an Adventurous Journey Camp for Bronze participants and met and interacted with Md. Imran and Tilak Raj, both Gold Award Holders, volunteering for the Award.
More events are lined up and the members of IAYP India and The Foundation are excited and look forward to understanding the functioning of the Award from different angles and dimensions.
IAYP India is positive that this visit will help build a more effective communication channel. For news updates on the communication team, check this space for detailed reports.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

A great experience, etched in our memories forever!

Sixteen Gold Award participants accompanied by two mentors went for a 5-day Residential Project to Shuklapur from 26th to 30th September 2016. The project involved constructing of two bio gas plants and exposure to the farm life of the villagers in Shuklapur village. Vinayak Agarwal, a Gold Award participant sharing his experience with us.

“Over the next five days, you will undergo pressure and not the laid-back physical attitude which a layman can withstand, but one which will strain you and engross your minds to an unimaginable extent.” This was our seemingly peculiar introduction to the Himalayan Environmental Studies and Conservation Organization (HESCO). The following five days, our two mentor teachers Mr. R. Srikanth and Mr. P. Chaturvedi and we, experienced the substantiation of the aforementioned statements.
The first day we had an introduction to the Padma Shri Awardee Mr. Anil Prakash Joshi, in which he expressed his dissatisfaction about the way developed or developing countries were striving for economic prowess, notwithstanding the fact that the very foundation on which all of their economics lies, is agriculture. India, despite being an agrarian society, had turned oblivious to its invaluable backbone, he said, and with this, we strive to do much more than any other could have, in the given time frame.
On our tour of the Isotope Hydrology Centre and HESCO, we came across a multitude of attention-grabbing things but all of them seem to diminish compared to what lay ahead. The task at hand was to construct two bio gas tanks. All we had was some basic tools and two experienced guides. On arrival at the village, which we had reached scurrying past lush meadows, we were greeted by the warmhearted residents. The task unpredictably turned out to be a very meticulous one, for it required the holes, drills, and cuts to be made at precise locations, which if dealt carelessly, could result in the wastage of two precious resources -- time and money. This tank would be utilized by the villages for household work, such as using the gas in stoves instead of LPG. The tank puts to use the otherwise wasted organic material and slurry and, over a period of days, turns it into bio gas. Through means of anaerobic fermentation, in a sealed enclosure, the methane gas is produced. What’s more is that the remnants in the tank can be used as organic manure. Two of these particular constructions were done within two days, discounting the request of our guides to ‘go slow’. The remaining task now was basic manual work related to agriculture. However, on ground, the work was physically excruciating, to say the least. Nonetheless, with the division of work among 16 Award participants, four pastures were converted into garden farms, which were to be utilized by the villages to grow subsistence for their daily needs.
All through this, we had lively interactions with the villagers through which we got to know a lot about life in a village. The ever so welcome attitude of theirs, not to mention the food back at the camp, had made us feel at home. Moreover, the team at HESCO with their heart-warming approach and far reaching outlook gave us a sense of satisfaction, for it was because of such people that one could have an experience so great that it is worth being etched in our memories forever.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Let's Make a Difference

Bronze participants of EuroSchool, Airoli visited the Old Age Home as a part of their Service. Sonia Cardoza, Award Leader, shares their experience with us.

The Bronze level participants of EuroSchool, Airoli decided to work at the old age home, Prem Dhan in Airoli, for their Service Section of the Award.
First, they started with a small meeting to plan the events for the people at the old age home. Next, they decided to plan a few games and activities to celebrate the festival of Christmas there. They prepared cards, gathered decoration items and also collected a few gifts that they could give as a token of their appreciation and love to the old people at the home.
On 19th December 2016 the students spent their afternoon with the residents of the Old Age Home. They sang carols, old Hindi songs and played tambola. Everybody enjoyed their time at the Old Age Home. The participants got a first-hand experience of the living conditions of the old people, many of whom have been disowned by their own children. The attitude of these people is truly inspiring, for they have no hard feelings or any anger towards their children. The participants were deeply moved and it helped them realize the true worth of their own parents.
Shravya Kaunongo gave her testimony: “I feel I am blessed after getting to know about the living condition of the people in Prem Dhan. I feel that God has been very gracious towards me. I have an entire room for myself, but here a single room is shared by over 15-20 people. I have more amenities than I could possibly require. They only have means to fulfil their basic needs. One bed and a shelf is all they have.”
The happiness of the old people was reflected in their eyes and gestures. The participants stayed on to help the staff during lunch time. All the participants left the place with a promise to meet their new friends regularly.