It is typical of me to ask children what they want to become when they grow up. So, when I threw open this question to a bunch of children, this is what they had to say:
You see, you just have to give children the opportunity to express, and they will overwhelm you with their responses. Probe a little more by asking ‘Why?’ and they will surprise you by telling the precise reason behind their aspiration. And, I bet it is the same with every child.
It is not enough to just know about their aspirations. As adults, we need to give an environment, an opportunity where children can live their childhood, explore their interests, learn and experiment, and hone their skills to achieve their goals. In one word, we have to ‘empower’ them. By definition, empower means to make (someone) stronger and more confident, especially in controlling their life and claiming their rights.
Here, I would like to use the term ‘youth empowerment’. It is a process by which children and young people are supported and encouraged to take charge of their lives by making informed decisions for the benefit of the self and the society. Youth empowerment involves:
The benefits of youth empowerment are:
1. It allows children and young people to explore, discover and develop their skills and strengths
2. It makes youth responsible and self-reliant
3. It makes youth more aware of themselves and the world
4. It gives a sense of direction helping youth from getting lost or falling into the dark trap of crime.
5. It instils a sense of confidence and makes youth resourceful and reliable
Role of NGOs
Several NGOs have taken up youth empowerment as their core cause. These NGOs provide training, guidance, and job opportunities to youth depending upon their respective interests. But, there are other NGOs that indirectly influence youth empowerment, and The Akshaya Patra Foundation is one among them. Before I tell you more about it, it is important to understand that empowerment is a nutshell of developing health, positivity, self-control, communication skills, intellectual skills, decision-making skills, a moral outlook, life coping skills, and pro-social connectedness.
Being a mid-day meal NGO and serving school lunch to children, Akshaya Patra is empowering children by:
• Providing them with nutritious meals to support healthy growth
• Encouraging them to attend school and receive education
• Offering them a platform to hone their hidden talents as part of the Foundation’s ‘Giving Every Dream A Chance’ initiative.
• And, most importantly by giving them the hope that their dreams are achievable
Here is quick clip showing Akshaya Patra’s role in empowering children:
He is just one among the 1.7 million beneficiaries whom Akshaya Patra is empowering each day.
What’s the conclusion?
It is important that children get the advantages of youth empowerment. It will not only develop them but also benefit the society as a whole. It becomes our responsibility to empower children so that they can achieve what they have dreamt of.
We would love to hear from you. So, feel free to share your thoughts and suggestions on youth empowerment in the below comment section. And, of course, do tell us how you would like to empower children.
And yes, the bunch of children at the beginning of this blog, they are all Akshaya Patra beneficiaries!