Wednesday, 30 October 2013


24th - 27th October 2013
The National Award Authority organised a Silver level Adventurous Journey and camp for differently-abled participants of Raphael Ryder Cheshire, Dehradun from 24th to 27th October 2013, under Special Projects. The group comprised 16 differently-abled participants (12 boys and 4 girls) escorted by three Award Leaders, Maninder, Lata and Madhu who work as Special Educators and two support staff. Five specially trained instructors of the Institute of Climbers and Nature Lovers (ICNL) Kolkata led them on their Silver Level Adventurous Journey. The camp was supervised by Bivujit Mukhoty (Programme Manager). Priyank Kumar Gupta (Head, YES Comm. Project) also represented the NAA for this adventurous journey.

The first day started with a briefing session about the journey. The instructors explained the importance of safety and helped the participants understand the different equipment. They taught them how to pack their backpacks and other equipment while on their Adventurous Journey. Next, the instructors explained the process for pitching tents and helped the participants perform this activity. The students enjoyed the learning activity. The Instructors demonstrated rappelling and other activities and showed the use of different types of rope knots that are normally used on the Adventurous Journey. The participants enjoyed their evening of dance & music and sleeping in the tents.

The next morning the group started their journey to Maa Ananadmayee Memorial School, Raiwala, by bus. Arpit Panjwani (Director) welcomed the group and arranged the stay for the participants. After lunch the instructors took the participants for a Jungle Walk where they were exposed to the wonders of the dense forest for the first time. There was much excitement with the sighting of a group of wild deer in the forest. They also enjoyed crossing a small stream and doing a little climbing on the unmetalled road. After a trek of 3 kms the group reached the banks of the Ganges. The participants enjoyed their jungle walk thoroughly and returned to the campsite happy with the experience.

The next day the group started their journey to the banks of the Ganges near Haridwar, to perform various adventurous activities. The activity site was almost 6 kms from the camp.  The instructors taught the participants rope obstacle activities like single rope bridge crossing and river crossing.  The participants enjoyed these activities a lot and also played with water in the river stream. In the post-lunch session the participants performed another rope obstacle activity, Tyrolean traverse. The evening brought another celebration of singing and dancing. On the 27th morning after the usual physical fitness training and a late breakfast the group departed for Raphael Ryder Cheshire, Dehra Dun. 

This Adventurous Journey was full of fun for the 16 students, helping build their confidence and exposing them to a different environment.  The NAA wishes to thank Maa Anandmayee Memorial School's team for providing support and organising this camp.  

"It was an absolute pleasure having you and everybody else over at MAMS. I must commend you on the wonderful work you're doing by positively impacting the lives of kids at Raphael. Needless to say, it is one of the greatest service to mankind that you are rendering."
- Arpit Panjwani, Director, MAMS 

click for pictures

Wednesday, 16 October 2013


19th MAY 2013 TO 26th MAY 2013
A report by Prabeen Sahu

The Bronze aspirants of The Sagar School, Alwar participated in an Adventurous Journey in the month of May 2013. The 13 participants (11 boys and 2 girls) and two teachers set off for Chandigarh by train on the evening of 19th May, with Sarabjit Singh as their tour guide. Reaching Chandigarh at 6:00 am, they left for Kufri by bus and arrived at the hill station by noon.

The participants received preliminary training regarding safety norms, trekking equipment, first aid, do's & don'ts, route map and navigation by the Adventure partner before starting the trek. The group embarked on the 3-km trek in the afternoon. After that the group participated in adventurous activities including rope bridge crossing.

On the 21st, the group started trekking from the base at 9 am. This was an 8-km trek which took almost the entire day. The trekkers were happy to see the diverse fauna and flora on the picturesque route. In the evening the group participated in an adventurous activity known as artificial valley crossing. They crossed a small valley with the help of ropes and climbing equipment.

The next day, the group started their trek from the base at 9 am. In the morning hours they participated in a major adventure activity - double rope crossing - where participants walked two ropes, with the help of adventure safety equipment. Balancing on two ropes was quite a feat! The same evening, the group visited Shimla and enjoyed themselves in the hill town. After dinner, the participants gathered around a camp fire, and displayed their skills and self confidence in a variety of performances.

On the 23rd, the group started trekking from the base at 8:30 am. In the morning hours they participated in a rappelling activity using adventure equipment. In the evening session there was an outdoor cooking competition where the teams (and instructors) tried cooking their food for the day. They cooked on logs of strewn wood which they gathered.

After a late start for the trek on the 24th morning, the group participated in the bush craft trek - the participants trekked through the bushes with all of them tied up with a single rope. This fun adventure activity helped in team building and leadership. In the evening session the participants learnt camp craft and rope courses (learning camping logistics) where they learnt about adventure and camping equipment, tents and camping logistics and survival techniques.

On the last day of the trip, the group set off for Chandigarh by bus. Here they visited the famous rock garden which is crafted with waste material. Finally, they boarded the train for Alwar station, tired, happy and with wonderful memories.  click for pictures

Wednesday, 9 October 2013


A report by Aparna Khanikar (Award Leader, Maria's Public School, Guwahati)

On the 1st of  October 2013 the 1st batch of the Bronze and Silver aspirants of Maria's Public School, Birkuchi, Guwahati set off to Mawlynnong,(Meghalaya) the cleanest village in Asia, to explore nature at its best and also to accomplish their goal of holistic growth as individuals. The group consisted of 14 boys and 22 girls with their Award leaders and a nature anchor from a registered NGO - Eco Concept. The adventure was a combination of fun, learning and self-discovery by living in the midst of nature with the bare essentials. 

Crossing Shillong, the scenic beauty of this region and the fresh fragrance of the pine trees was quite intoxicating. The plantations along the gorges and the soothing breeze were very welcoming sights. And the winding narrow lanes we passed through on our way to the cleanest village in the world seemed quite mystery filled. Our minds were filled with eagerness to explore the unexplored. 

The first night the group warmed up with a night nature trail of 2 hours (around 6 kms) around the village and explored the wild - discovering the green frog, the lichens visible in the trees around depicting pollution free area and wild mushrooms. The group trailed across small waterfalls discovering the crabs which were out of their holes during the dark hours of night. Later the campers pitched camps and some stayed at the cottages allotted to them.

The second day started bright and sunny lifting our spirits for our day long trek in the woods up and down the hill (around 18 kms). This trek was quite tough with lots of steep slopes to the floodplains along the Bangladesh border which took us almost 4-5 hours to reach. The waterfalls and the stream downhill were alluring to all the tiring souls. It served as a fitting reward after this long and tiring trek. In the streams we enjoyed catching fish the way we do in the wild with no proper equipment. Later the Award aspirants collected water and boiled it over wood fire to serve noodles. The return journey uphill was tough and each aspirant made it to the base camp tired and fatigued but the night camp fire took away all their tiredness as the students danced and sang to the tunes of the latest melodies with zeal and enthusiasm.

Zip line crossing and the trek to the living root bridge fired the students imaginations and they were in high spirits throughout the next day as they trekked for 8km to reach the living root bridge where they discovered how the village around has learned to survive along with nature. It was a unique sight to see the two rubber trees clinging together forming the root bridge for people of the two villages to commute across the stream. The zip line crossing was mind blowing and all the girls as well as the boys were enthralled by it. 

At last with baggage packed and our minds & cameras brimming with ever lasting memories, we were all set to return home when our vehicle broke down. The students had to manage by themselves in this hour of crisis which they did with calm competence. And I must say that IAYP, by introducing Adventurous Journey as one of the qualifying criteria for the Award has indeed given each individual a chance to explore his ability to deal with stress and uncertainties.

Kudos IAYP!!

Click for pictures


08 - 09 October 2013 

 The 3rd National Training Workshop (NTW III) was held from 08 - 09 October 2013 at The Sagar School, Alwar (Rajasthan), with 14 participants from 6 different institutions. At the inaugural ceremony, the NAA team consisting of Kapil Bhalla (National Director), Bivujit Mukhoty (Programme Manager), Priyank Kumar Gupta (Head, YES Comm Project) and Vijayashree Pahal (Member, NTP from GD Goenka World School, Gurgaon) were welcomed and the 'Lamp of Knowledge' was lit. Jayshree Balasaria (Principal, The Sagar School) described the progress of IAYP at The Sagar School and the different activities that TSS offers for the programme.

The workshop started with an ice-breaking session where the participants interacted with each other and shared their experience, vision and expectations from the workshop. Kapil Bhalla described the history of Award and Bivujit Mukhoty took sessions on the Philosophy and Framework of Award. After the theoretical sessions, the delegates participated in activities that enhanced their understanding of the various sections of the Award.   Vijayashree Pahal started with the Service section in which participants performed activities as Award participants. The session was followed by Skills, mentored by Bivujit Mukhoty. Kapil Bhalla took participants for outdoor activities as part of Physical Recreation. The last session of the day was the Adventurous Journey.

The second day started with an interactive session on Residential Projects for the Gold Level. Bivujit Mukhoty took another session on Risk Management which was followed by Brand Pack, Web Resources, Volunteering and Benefits of the Award. There was a Q&A session in which the NAA Team resolved queries. The Workshop concluded with the presentation of the Award Leader Training Certificate and badges. Kapil Bhalla presented an IAYP memento to Jayshree Balasaria (Principal, The Sagar School) and thanked the school for their support for conducting the workshop.

About The Sagar School
The Sagar School was founded in 2000 as a co-educational, residential school by Dr. Vidya Sagar, a leading intellectual property and corporate lawyer. The school was set up by Sagar Shiksha Sansthan, a non-profit society registered under The Societies Registration Act (1860).

The school aims to ensure that its students achieve their highest academic and personal potential. It also aims to give them a firm foundation based upon an understanding of Indian culture, society and ideas. The school aims to use that base to build more globally aware citizens prepared for the rigours of the 21st century. This is encouraged through the curriculum and through visits, expeditions, exchange programmes and school events such as European quizzes.

The school educates both boys and girls in classes IV to XII (age groups 8 to 17) under the CBSE. Teaching is conducted in English in small classes with numbers limited to a maximum of 24. This allows the school to have a high teacher-student ratio, which ensures that individual needs can be assessed and individual help and support given.

The school has been built to accommodate 450 students. Its facilities allow students to participate in the widest possible variety of activities. This ensures that each student can find and develop his own individual talents. In the end, the school's aim is to create a well-rounded student capable of achieving his highest academic potential alongside shaping his well-developed and whole personality.The school was the winner of International School Award (British Council) 2010 and Rated the No. 1 co-educational boarding school in Rajasthan by the Education World, India School Rankings 2013.  Click for pictures

Wednesday, 2 October 2013


Concerned by the plight of poverty in his community in India, Aviral Gupta decided to take action.

Inspired by Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus' work in Bangladesh, Aviral recognised the power of micro-financing to help those on or below the poverty line. Micro-financing is one of the biggest success stories in the developing world in the last 30 years. After a bit of research and a little financial help from one of his university lecturers, Aviral was able to get his project off the ground, supporting women in a small community in Makkawala; his research had revealed that it was the women in these communities who were more responsible when offered small loans and that the men tended to squander the money on alcohol or gambling.

His first loan went to a group of women who used the money to manufacture cloth bags. "The bags became a big hit at my school," says Aviral. "But I realised that the women would need to widen their market if the business was to succeed."

Age discrimination
What he hadn't anticipated was the age discrimination he would face along the way. Having visited more than a hundred shops in Dehradun to market the bags not one shop keeper was willing to buy. "They said they didn't feel comfortable buying from someone half their age," Aviral explains.

Surprised but not deterred by this, he set about changing his product to something new that would still be appealing to the students who had already bought the bags. He figured he could find other ways to utilise his existing market whilst trying to overcome this apparent age barrier. "I bought some wool for the women, so they could make mufflers for the students," says Aviral. Like the bags, the mufflers were a big hit with his 500-strong student market.

Bright future 
Aviral has been working on the project for over a year now, and with great results. The women now feel a sense of hope about their future, says Aviral. "I feel so happy that I have been able to help these women and I know I have made a positive difference to their lives."

His enterprising skills have also left a positive impact on the school and the community; many of the students are interested in taking part in the project and schools in other communities have expressed interest in collaborating with Aviral and his team.
"The lessons learnt from this project are lessons for life," he says. "I have learnt things that you cannot learn from a classroom, like how to gain people's trust and also to live up to it and respect it."

Talking to people outside of his 'privileged' community has made him a better person, he says. "Seeing people's reactions, anticipating their replies and facing failures at times has made me more worldly-wise. Above all, though, this project has taught me to believe in myself and to see that anything is possible in this world."


Tejas K Murugesh (Gold Aspirant, Open Award Centre) sharing his Award experiences

I started off on my IAYP journey thinking that I would merely add to my personality without any real interest in completing it. I was in the 8th grade when I was talked into this programme by my mother. I started off by thinking that this was a lot of work; getting involved in activities I normally didn't think of, filling in the log book and running after teachers and coaches for signatures, but all I can say today is that I couldn't be more grateful to my parents and school for pushing me toward this program. To fulfill my bronze requirements: I learnt to play the guitar for Skills, for Service I helped build houses with the Habitat for Humanity near Mumbai and taught English/Math to underprivileged children near my school. I went camping for my Adventurous Journey section where I did mountain biking, rappelling, camping, and learnt survival skills among other things. My football coaching took care of the Physical Recreation section. All these activities together ensured that I received the Bronze Award.

Getting caught up in the pressure of 9th grade I almost forgot about this programme even though I was continuing to do the work required for the Silver Award. It had become so much a part of my life that I didn't even realise that I was doing it. Building skills and helping others had became such a part of my system that the Award requirements were furthermost from my mind! One day as I was looking at my Bronze award, I decided to complete all the three levels of the IAYP, since I had enjoyed participating in this programme. I continued working on my profile to receive my Silver Award. I finally received this award in June 2013.

Here are a few memories that I am going to share with you and these are memories that will live on with me forever.

The biggest and most important memory is my Service project, "The Newspaper Project". This involves educating and making under-privileged children aware of what is happening in the world and their country (India) and also opening their eyes to opportunities for them through reading an English or vernacular newspaper. The project involves teaching the children about the newspaper, it's components and the benefits from reading it and arranging for subscriptions to the schools of under-privileged children. I identified a couple of newspapers that I would distribute; this included Lok Satta, DNA, Times of India, etc. to these schools. The main objective of this project is to impart education and create awareness about the world around us. The less privileged population of our country is uneducated and that is holding India back from becoming developed. What usually happens is that since the parents are uneducated, while their kids attend school, they tend to not know what is happening around them. They assume that the world around them is like what it is in their locality alone, but are unable to see the larger, more beautiful picture and opportunity. The parents of the less fortunate kids and their schools usually don't give their children access to newspapers due to financial reasons. So what I did was assemble a core group of about 15-20 of my friends and their friends, to help complete the project. I had friends from my earlier school and others from a Rotaract Club help. We personally visited schools where my volunteer friends and I explained the importance of reading and the various sections of the newspapers. With a better understanding of the newspaper, these students can now be aware of what is happening in their country and the world as a whole. This then helps them to get a picture of the type of world they live in and helps them appreciate the enormous opportunities for themselves and their community. Some of the underprivileged children have written thank you letters to me which are very special to me.

We have already made our mark on 20 Mumbai schools, by teaching about 1000 children in four months about newspapers. I'm aiming to try to help every school that enrolls with the project and slowly expand the project to neighbouring cities.
For the subscriptions what I did was organise my volunteers to visit door-to-door in their own locality and ask for a subscription as a gift. They then handed me the cheques. From here, I took the full and sole initiative and responsibility of the programme. I visited large newspaper companies and their printing presses. I met editors/marketing heads to hand them these cheques for a yearly subscription of a certain newspaper. These newspapers are now being delivered to the listed schools.

The other activities that I engaged in was to learn how to play the guitar, learn to play badminton and travel for international football camps. Throughout the journey of one year I have been learning to play the guitar. It was part of my skills development. I used to have to force myself to play and practice the guitar, but once I understood and was able to read music, I started loving it and playing on a regular basis. If there was no IAYP, I would have had no motivation to learn to play the guitar or even read music, but now this is one skill which I will cherish for the rest of my life. My regular football coaching made up my physical activity requirements. To complete my profile for the IAYP Silver Award, I completed camping trips to Rishikesh and one international culture trip, yet I wasn't satisfied. The adventurer in me had awakened thanks to IAYP. It was the start of my summer vacation. As I browsed the internet to search for interesting summer camps, I came across an international football camp. I travelled all the way to Manchester for a football camp with European giants Manchester United. I trained in their football school for about a week before returning. It was an absolutely wonderful experience, living alone, cleaning your own room, doing your own laundry and of course, the football part of it was amazing! It's a whole new experience when you travel to another country to play football, meet new people from all over the world and make lifelong friends. The whole thought just amazes you.

I'm now working on my Gold Award. I'd like to thank IAYP for all these fantastic memories. Without it, I would have nothing to write home about and no heart-warming memories like I do now, thanks to it. It is a fantastic programme and I hope by reading this all of you would be motivated to join the programme. One thing I have learnt from the IAYP programme is that people tend to surprise themselves with the things they do and undertake when there are no limits. IAYP has provided this platform for me and I hope it does for you too.