Saturday, 16 February 2019

Greening the Desert – Build a Greenhouse

Adventurous Journey and Gold Residential Project
1st - 15th June 2019, Spiti, Northern Himalayas, India

Gold Award participants from around the globe are welcome to apply for the two-weeks Solar Conservation Project at Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, organised by Ecosphere in collaboration with IAYP India. The project is one of its kind, combining an Adventurous Journey and Gold Residential Project exclusively for Gold Award participants.

During this journey, the Award participants will be travelling through Spiti and will spend 5 days assisting the local community in the construction of a Greenhouse enabling a local farmer or a Monastery/Nunnery to have access to green vegetables throughout the year. You will participate in the actual construction of a greenhouse and will be assisted by a dedicated team comprising a qualified mason and trained person from Ecosphere. The activity will entail physical work and you will get hands-on learning of traditional mud building techniques – both mud blocks and rammed earth. One will also learn the basics of solar passive architecture and how best to insulate using readily available local material and the sun to heat up the structure.

The trip is a mix of work and pleasure. During this trip participants will be visiting some of the highest villages in the world, going on a high-altitude trek, visiting some ancient monasteries dating back to over a 1000 years, and taking a yak/horse safari and mountain bike -- if interested. Traditional homestays further enrich the experience by giving one an authentic understanding of the life and culture in a Spitian home.

Detailed information and application form can be obtained from here. The last date for registration is 30th April 2019.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Service before Self

Serving others is a spiritual experience that instils calm in every human being. Rajyasri Rao, a Gold Award participant of The Lawrence School, Ooty visited Bokapuram village and Masinagudi as part of her Gold Residential Project. Defining her visit as a ‘life-changing experience’, she shares insights on what it means to serve others.

“Before giving, the mind of the giver is happy; while giving, the mind of the giver is made peaceful; and having given, the mind of the giver is uplifted.” says, Buddha. We seemed to have seen this insightful quote come to life when, as part of IAYP’s Gold Residential Project, we visited Bokapuram village and Masinagudi. During our five-day visit that began on 27th September and concluded on 2nd October 2018, we became the embodiment of ‘work hard, play hard’. At the school we were residing in, we engaged in levelling the ground and painting a primary classroom with colours most appealing to children. In Bokapuram, we engaged in renovation work on the houses of two elderly women. Another facet of our project was spreading awareness about the consequences of alcohol addiction in a village adjacent to the school, as part of which we painted signs on walls and conducting awareness campaigns in the village.

Putting up at a school with basic amenities, cleaning our own dishes and living spaces and contributing selflessly – all these instilled a sense of responsibility and consciousness in us. The contentment we derived after having finished our visit was supreme. The teachers who accompanied us guided us towards looking beyond the comforts of premiere boarding schools. They taught us to be humble and considerate by exposing us to an alien lifestyle departing several life lessons discussion sessions after dinner each night. Our teacher incharge, Mr Kuldeep Singh and other teacher escorts Ms Kamaljeet, Mr Kartikeyan, Ms Anjali and Ms Samina were as much a part of this labour intensive project as we were. Their dedication towards the cause together with their guidance enlightened us on what true service meant. Our support staff’s contribution made our stay comfortable and we would never be thankful enough for it.

I had never fathomed that the Gold Residential Project would be a life-changing experience for me, bringing age-old quotes to life. Despite bruises, cuts, sunburns, insect bites and challenging physical activities, we learnt to get up and vanquish the forces that caused us to trip. The most striking aspect of our journey, however, was how gracefully we transcended our comfort zones, motivated by the idea to extend our hands in service. Click here for more pictures

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Spreading Love and Warmth

Sneha Singhal, an Award participant from Uttam School for Girls, narrates her experience of visiting Sewa Samarpan, a school for underprivileged children. Recounting this visit, she highlights how ‘happiness’ has been redefined for her and her fellow participants.

'You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay'.

Donation is an act of charity; it symbolises kindness and generosity on the part of the donor. Every year on Christmas and New Year’s, Uttam School for Girls hands out clothes and toys to students of Sewa Samarpan, a school for underprivileged children. Besides that, it organises workshops and programmes for these children while also supporting them financially.

This year as well, IAYP participants collected old toys and woollens from the students of all classes and then packed them neatly. Some participants, accompanied by a teacher, visited Sewa Samarpan and were elated on receiving positive responses from the students there. It was an immense pleasure seeing them feeling jubilant on receiving gifts. Contrasting our privilege with theirs, we felt our urge to do something for the underprivileged growing stronger. We concluded our visit by singing Christmas carols and getting photographs clicked with our new friends. Keeping up with the spirit of sharing, we also donated huge amounts of warm clothes to Eazy Hug, an initiative by Godrej to spread love and warmth this winter.

“The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving”, says Albert Einstein. Real happiness is attained through sharing. We take this opportunity to thank IAYP for inculcating in us the true value of community service through the Service section of its programme. We’re proud that Uttam School for Girls has taken this initiative and we really hope that others, too, make efforts to better the lives of marginalised individuals and communities.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

The Potential of Little Efforts to Create Huge Changes

Ajay Singh, the Award Leader from Yadavindra Public School, Mohali, shares insights about eleven Award participants who visited a government school as a part of the Service section of the Award Programme. Mr Singh provides a new perspective on rural education.

The Award Leaders of Yadavindra Public School, Mohali, staunchly believe in giving back to society and attempt to plant the same thought in the minds of the Award participants. As a part of the Service section of the Award Programme, participants visit different orphanages and government schools time and again to gain insights about the lives of children there. Aiming for the same, a group of eleven Award participants along with two Award Leaders visited a government school situated in a suburban area of the town.

The government school that we visited had five classes, each with tables, chairs and a blackboard, at the least. There were six teachers and the students comprised children from rural areas and other backward areas surrounding the location. Though hesitant initially, many of them gradually expressed their delight when the Award participants interacted with them. The participants interviewed the teachers, who expressed their views on how a lot of parents of the students are not receptive to the idea of schooling. The teachers also highlighted their struggle of getting children, especially from poverty-stricken backgrounds, to study. As reported by them, some of the students did not even have any footwear when they first came to school and had to be bathed in the school itself on more than one occasion. The participants distributed snacks and sweets among the students and teachers and spent time playing games with them while also educating them about personal hygiene.

It was an eye-opening experience for us, confronted by the zeal of rural students to interact with us. Their presence in classes despite being faced with formidable situations on the domestic, economic and social front was an overwhelming aspect of our experience; one that helped us to inculcate sensitivity towards the extreme conditions that those rural children survive in. Our visit was marked by a moment of pride – learning that in rural areas too, people care about their children being educated and make efforts towards the same. Primarily, it made us introspect and question our own selves about the use of the resources provided to us. We acknowledge and are grateful to the Director Major General of Yadavindra Public School, TPS Waraich (Retd.) for allowing some spare chairs and tables from our school to be donated to the government school, which is a prime instance of how little, seemingly insignificant efforts can make a humongous difference. Click here for pictures

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

The Pre-Eminence of Hands that Serve

The Award participants of Mody School, Lakshmangarh visited Bal Seva Sadan and worked with the school as part of the Residential Project of the Gold Level. Recounting their experience of engaging in a host of activities at the school, these participants redefine the power of lending a hand.

Under the banner of IAYP, the Award participants of Mody School and seven other renowned schools of the country gathered to participate in a five-day Residential Project as a part of their Gold Award Programme. Mody School, Lakshmangarh has adopted a school, “Bal Seva Sadan”, through which it provides free education to underprivileged children of the area. Aligning with its aim to fulfil some material and service requirements of Bal Seva Sadan, Mody School sought to improve the basic infrastructure there for this Residential Project. 19 participants of Mody School aspiring for the Gold Award, 26 participants for the Silver and Bronze Awards along with 60 others from visiting schools, actively participated in this project. They raised substantial funds to meet the expenses of the project.

Ms Nishi Rana, the Principal of Mody School inaugurated the project by planting a sapling, marking a new beginning. In the same spirit, all the participants and teachers also did the same. Following this, the participants, together with the students of Bal Seva Sadan, were divided into 8 groups. The groups cleaned the ground and prepared a cemented path. They even distempered the wall, preparing them for further work. On the second day, a water cooler with RO was installed, the existing tin shed was extended by fixing another one and a learning session comprising dance, poetry, painting and drama was conducted by all the groups for the students of Bal Seva Sadan. The students also began tiling the floor with vitrified tiles.

The third day saw the volunteers painting the walls and marking the sports ground. The groups first sketched on the walls and then painted them with myriad colours. Two groups engaged in marking the badminton court and a grid for stapu. The learning sessions, too, continued with great conviction. On the fourth day, the groups finished the wall paintings and fixed baskets on the walls for practising basketball. The students were provided with sports equipment for playing badminton, basketball, karate and gymnastics.

On the fifth and final day, a counselling session for the students of Bal Seva Sadan was conducted where they were taught the importance of education and the benefits of attending school regularly. The most awaited moment for the participants as well as the younger students was their final performances. The groups performed whatever they had learnt during their sessions and felt elated on being able to perform well. They were given school bags, water bottles and sweatshirts, among other things.

The participants testify that the hands that serve are supreme. They are prime examples of what sensitivity towards the needy means, in the real sense. Click here for more pictures

Award Leader Training (YES) Workshop

at Emmanuel Ministries Calcutta, Kolkata

On January 17 and 18, 2019, the National Award Authority organised an Award Leader Training (YES) Workshop at the Emmanuel Ministries Calcutta, Kolkata. The workshop was led by Kapil Bhalla - National Director, Bivujit Mukhoty - Programme Manager and Bhagyasree Sengupta - Programme Assistant. The objective of the workshop was to interact with the Award Leaders of different schools and iterate the importance of their contribution in the journey of the Award participants.

The workshop witnessed a total of 27 participants. The organisations that participated in the workshop were Modern High School For Girls, Kolkata; Sri Sri Academy, Kolkata; Father Leblond School, Madati; B.D.M International, Kolkata; Delhi Public School Newtown, Kolkata; The Heritage School, Kolkata; South Point High School, Kolkata; Mahadevi Birla World Academy, Kolkata; Indus Valley World School, Kolkata; Delhi Public School Megacity, Kolkata, Sacred Heart School, Siliguri; Emmanuel Ministries Calcutta, Kolkata; BIGFOOT, Kolkata and Juniper Wings, Kolkata.

The workshop commenced with an ice-breaking session followed by an introduction to the Award Programme. The team threw light on the philosophy of the Award, its journey and its framework. They then went on to explain its various facets that include Voluntary Service, Skills, Physical Recreation, and Adventurous Journey. They also elaborated upon risk management, stressed the benefits of the Programme and touched upon the Residential Project for the Gold Level of the Programme. What followed next was a review session and discussion about the levels of the Award Programme. The session concluded with a film highlighting the Award’s achievements and its impact. National Award Authority wish to deliver their thanks to Mrs Premila Pavamani (President), Mr Shajan George (Executive Director), Mr Timothi Barrato (Award Leader) and Ms Bulbul Dutt (Award Leader) of Emmanuel Ministries Calcutta for their support and hospitality to organise this workshop. For pictures click here.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Award Leader Training (YES) Workshop

at Award Training Centre, New Delhi

On January 10 and 11, 2019, the National Award Authority organised an Award Leader Training (YES) Workshop at the Award Training Centre, New Delhi. The workshop was led by Kapil Bhalla - National Director, Bivujit Mukhoty - Programme Manager, Priyank Kumar Gupta - Head IT and ORB and Pallavi Gill - Programme Officer. The objective of these workshops was to interact with the Award Leaders of different schools and iterate the importance of their contribution in the journey of the Award participants.

The workshop witnessed a total of 14 participants. The schools that participated in the workshop were Jhamkudevi Girls School, Abohar, Punjab; Sunbeam English School, Varanasi; Sunbeam Suncity (School & Hostel), Varanasi; Modern School, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi; Indirapuram Public School, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh; Harvest International School, Ludhiana, Punjab; Unison World School, Dehra Dun, Uttarakhand; IVY World School, Jalandhar, Punjab; Delhi Public School, RN Ext., Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh; and Kothari International School, Noida, Uttar Pradesh.

The workshop commenced with an ice breaking session followed by an introduction to the Award Programme. The team threw light on the philosophy of the Award, its journey and its framework. They then went on to explain its various facets that include Voluntary Service, Skills, Physical Recreation, and Adventurous Journey. They also elaborated upon risk management, stressed the benefits of the Programme and touched upon the Residential Project for the Gold Level of the Programme. What followed next was a review session and discussion about the levels of the Award Programme. The session concluded with a film highlighting the Award’s achievements and its impact. For pictures click here.

My learning experience of interacting with bright young minds

This report has been submitted by Young Jun Yoo, a Silver Award participant who shares his experience of working at Mata Bhagwanti Chadha Niketan, a school for the differently abled. Narrating what he gained during the journey, he highlights how his perspective towards disability has changed.

Working for 6 months with the students of Mata Bhagwanti Chadha Niketan, a charitable school for physically disabled children, as part of pursuing the Silver level of the Award Programme, provided me with the opportunity to serve the needy. That’s how my relationship with the students of MBCN commenced.

I distinctly remember the very first day I met the Vice-Principal, Mrs Sheeba, to whom I nervously explained my plans of conducting an interactive session with the students of MBCN. My first class, the students of which comprised those with hearing impairment, started just a week after meeting with Mrs Sheeba, for which I prepared a printout of different insects, such as butterflies and dragonflies. Initially, I faced difficulties in communication due to lack of knowledge of sign language. Thus, I used my body language to communicate with them. During the course of my interaction with the students, I learnt how a smile was the key to communicating with people. After the first interaction itself, the students started decorating the printouts on their own, displaying their fine talent in drawing and craft work. They broke down my prejudiced ideas about disability and I saw my perceptions changing.

Post the first class, I became more familiar with the students, which eventually led to a proper timetable being formulated for my interaction with them. Earlier, I took classes only with students who had a hearing disability, but from then onward, I could meet every student of MBCN. These students, though differently abled, were bright young people with warm hearts. From colouring an insect to making an animal bus, I prepared a number of innovative activities for the students. Only recently, I gifted them socks with character paintings, which they really admired. It feels great to have brought smiles to their innocent faces.

Concluding the Silver Award, I feel elated on becoming a better human being by interacting with the students of MBCN. This interaction not only brought about a change in my perception of disability but also in how I deal with and treat people with a disability now. It motivated me to be more responsible, engaging with the students to aid them in achieving something new and positive constantly. I plan to carry these sessions forward in the Gold Award level of the Programme with more ideas and a stronger relationship with the students. Click here for more pictures

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

How We Enhanced Our Skills and Expanded Our Horizons

The following report has been submitted by Manasi Pathak, an Award participant from Delhi Public School, Gurugram, who shares her experience of visiting Mountain Quail, Mussoorie as part of her Adventurous Journey. Highlighting IAYP’s role in her experience, she narrates how this visit has been an eye-opening experience for her.

Nature keeps us grounded, obstacles make us perseverant and adventure makes us tough. We could reflect on these words when we began our journey to Mountain Quail, Mussoorie. Organised from October 10 to 13, 2018, Camp Anubhav offered us myriad activities to undertake. As campers bubbling with energy and excitement, we reached our school by four in the morning and left the school premises by quarter to five. On reaching Mussoorie, we were divided into two groups, namely the Red Rangers and the Blue Battalions, with two guides for each group.

Having played amazing games like ‘where’s my monkey?’ passing the parcel, air hockey, and ‘straw and bangle’, we concluded our first day by writing our activities for the day in a journal. The second day commenced with heavy rain and we were kept busy with interesting indoor activities. Once the rain ceased, the two groups engaged in Burma bridge crossing and raft building. Post lunch, the Red Rangers went stream running while the Blue Battalions went rock climbing and rappelling. Following this was a steep trek. On the third and last day we played an interesting game, the Guerrilla War. This game was worth eight hundred points and was a game changer for both the teams. The last day concluded with Red Rangers being adjudged the best group and a vote of thanks by the members of Camp Anubhav. Towards the evening there was a DJ session for all the campers, after which we sat around a bonfire telling ghost stories. For me, the most soothing time of the entire camp was the journal writing time when we could quietly pen down our thoughts for each day.

We learnt a lot during this camp, such as helping each other and not belittling other’s fears. The Award Programme has truly been a life changing experience for us as we got to enhance our skills and expand our horizons. While games like Guerilla Warfare have inculcated teamwork and sportsmanship in us, thrilling adventure sports like stream running have made us more patient and have enhanced our decision-making skills as we played this game of faith with rocks, deciding which ones would not make our trip. We’ve gained patience and fearlessness. The trip would have been unaccomplished without the presence and support of our teachers. The absolutely mesmerizing experience at the camp has given us innumerable memories to think of and cherish for a lifetime.

One-Day Award Leader Training Workshop

January 7, 2019 at Singapore International School, Mumbai

The International Award for Young People, India encourages young people to develop the character, skills and confidence they need to improve themselves and their communities, by encouraging them to step outside their comfort zone and build positive habits that they will take with them for the rest of their lives. With the support of adult mentors, the Award helps young people to unleash their passions and believe in the power of their own potential.

Keeping the above aspects in view, a training workshop for Award Leaders was conducted on December 7, 2019. Kapil Bhalla (National Director) and Bivujit Mukhoti (Programme Manager) facilitated the workshop with 49 participants from Singapore International School, Mumbai; Ram Ratna International School, Thane, and Adventure Education Tours (Mumbai) Pvt. Ltd., Mumbai.

The workshop gave an introduction to the Award and its philosophy, and the four pillars: Service, Skills, Physical Recreation, Adventurous Journey and the Residential Project for Gold level. Under each session, the Award Leaders under training performed a few activities that made use of their imagination, skill and initiative. The National Award Authority wish to thank Mr. Riad Rojoa (Principal) and Mrs Sharonee Mullick (Director) Singapore International School, Mumbai for their hospitality and support. More workshop pictures can be seen here.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Stepping Stones in Personality Development

This report has been submitted by Ms Sukhbir Kaur, Award Leader, Bawa Lalvani Public School, Kapurthala, who shares the experience of the Adventurous Journey of 159 participants of the Award Programme from Bawa Lalwani Public School. Ms Kaur had much to narrate on the participants’ visit to Camp Comrade M/s. Rocksport.

In our interconnected and wired world, the youth is increasingly tethered to their digital devices, working constantly to maintain their digital profiles. As ‘social’ as these exercises may seem, they are, in fact, becoming a way to isolate oneself and stunt social interactivity rather than being a tool to enhance it. An adventure camp with a meaningful purpose and a set goal was the finest idea which was planned for the respite of the participants and to bring about a change in their outlook of the world.

The park where the participants camped was built scientifically, with barriers and hurdles for engaging in fitness outdoors. It is a deliberately built ‘obstacle assault course’ designed to test every aspect of one’s senses ranging from balance and grip strength to climbing, running and crawling. Only the tenacious ones could complete the full loop in one go.

Spanned over a period of four days, the participants basked in their new found independence away from home and beyond regular text books. They learnt about tent-pitching and different kinds of camping gears along with learning to tie essential knots. Other activities in which students took part were caving, rock-climbing and rappelling and the participants were made to trek to the locations where these activities were organised. These activities were quite arduous under the scorching sun but they allowed the participants to step outside their comfort zones and challenge themselves. The participants also gained thrilling experiences of different adventurous activities like Burma bridge crossing, bamboo bridge crossing, commando bridge walk, bushcraft, zip-line, jumaring, rope valley crossing, night trekking and camp fire. Every activity tried the strength and flexibility of the participants and taught them to sustain themselves in the toughest conditions whilst improving their endurance levels.

Learning team and individual goal-setting, conflict resolution, and overcoming challenges have led the participants towards improved confidence and self-worth. Some campers have expressed their feelings of a stronger sense of individuality. Hearing each participant exclaim, “Look what I accomplished!” was an achievement in itself. Participants and mentors alike build their self-esteem and self-confidence by challenging their fears and doubts and vanquishing them. At the closing of the camp the participants put up short skits in groups on social issues: an inspirational sight to witness.  Click here for more pictures