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5 Benefits of Youth Empowerment

Youth Empowerment

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:

Beneficiaries Dreams

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.

What next?

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.

Empowering children

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:

Youth Empowerment

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!

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Giving Every Dream A Chance!

Giving every dream a chance

The Conviction

Every child has a dream; each dream is valid – for their dreams, thoughts, and aspirations make these children what they are.

Giving Every Dream A Chance

In an effort to provide overall development for its beneficiaries, The Akshaya Patra Foundation launched ‘Giving Every Dream A Chance’ – an initiative to nurture the unique aspirations of children. It is the Foundation’s attempt to identify children with special dreams and give them the opportunity to realise their dreams by providing mentorship programmes wherein children will be coached, groomed, and guided by the experts of respective fields.

A Flashback

‘Giving Every Dream A Chance’ was launched on 11 June 2016 at the Vivanta by Taj, Bengaluru, by Chief Guest, Mrs. Sudha Murty – Chairperson, Infosys Foundation and a benevolent supporter of Akshaya Patra.

Beneficiaries

In Chapter 1 of the initiative, three beneficiaries: Shivu, Manjula, and Shekar were given necessary mentorship and training through professionals in the field of their choice.

• Shivu with the aim to become an astronaut received an in-depth insight and understanding of the celestial world under the guidance of Ms. Preethi Krishnamurthy, Senior Research Fellow in Astrophysics.
• Manjula, a budding actress, received a thorough professional training in theatre and acting at the Bangalore School of Speech and Drama under the guidance of Dr. Zulfia Shaikh.
• Shekar a chef in the making, got an opportunity to hone his culinary skills at The Taj Vivanta, Bengaluru under the guidance of Chef Ramasamy Selvarju.

The Present

The success and goodwill received for the initiative in Chapter 1 motivated Akshaya Patra to script Chapter 2.

Talents

In the year 2017, 300 children from 15 Government Schools in Bengaluru, Hubballi, Hyderabad, and Vrindavan were mentored in their respective field of interest. These children received training in various fields, with the support of professionals and specific academies such as:

• Sri Raksha Natya Kala Academy for classical dance
• Just for Kicks & Team were the coaches for football goals of children
• Art& Design Studio for origami
• Vivanta by Taj for culinary workshop
• Spektrum Dance Studio for freestyle
• High Heels for contemporary
• Mr. Mahesh, a professional theatre artist for a well-written play on cleanliness

On 14 April 2018, an event was organised to showcase the talents of the children at The Taj Vivanta, Yeswantpur, Bengaluru. The stage was enlivened by a variety of performances ranging from vocal and instrumental music, folk and contemporary dances, theatre acts, on-stage origami creations, and remarkable display of math talent. All the performances received reverberating applauses and praises from the guests and audiences. Aside from the performances of beneficiary children, the audience witnessed enthralling performances of Vaishnav Girish – participant of Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Lil Champs and Indian Idol Junior, and Anjana Padmanabhan – First Indian Idol Junior Winner.

The event came to a close with the launch of the mascot ‘Sunny’ and the two child characters ‘Bhoomi’ and ‘Akash’ representing “Swachh Vidyarthi, Swachh Vidyalaya, Swachh Gruha” – an initiative by Akshaya Patra to achieve Swachh Bharat.

Guests and Dignitaries

The ‘Giving Every Dream A Chance’ Event on 14 April 2018 at The Taj Vivanta was graced by select guests and dignitaries from various spheres of profession and talent.

Celebrities

Director of CBI, Special Director General CRPF Screenwriter was the Chief Guest for the evening.

– Padma Shri Honoree Shri D. R. Kaarthikeyan, Advisor- Law Human Rights – Corporate Affairs and         former Director General of National Human Rights Commission
– Mr. Roberto Narain – Head of Drumjam
– Mrs. Vasundhara Das – Singer, Actress, Composer, Lyricist, Entrepreneur and Environmental Activist
– Mrs. Mayuri Upadhya – Co-Founder and Director of Nritarutya Dance
– Arjun Halappa – Former Captain of the Indian Hockey Team.

The event was studded with prominent stars from the film and entertainment industry namely Suraj Gowda, Meghna Gaonkar, Dhananjay, Shruti Hariharan, Samyuktha Hegde, Vashista N Simha, Sonu Gowda, Ragini Dwivedi, Navdeep, Naveen, Arun Sagar, and Rajshri Ponnappa.

The event was presided by Shri Madhu Pandit Dasa – Chairman, The Akshaya Patra Foundation in the presence of Shri Chanchalapati Dasa – Vice Chairman, The Akshaya Patra Foundation, and the Unit Presidents of Akshaya Patra kitchens from across the country.

Guests Speak

Rajshri Ponnappa – “I am really honoured to get this chance to be a part of this platform, this opportunity that they (Akshaya Patra) are giving these children. Everybody deserves to dream and every dream deserves a chance. And, I think everybody coming here to support this, is fantastic.”

Roberto Narain – “My very reason to be here is – it’s very easy to talk but very difficult to do. So, the more you give the kids to go out and do things, we get the change we need.” When asked to define Akshaya Patra in three words, Narain said, I would rather define it in one word, that is ‘Dream’, and that’s the future.”

Vasundhara Das – Opining that the song ‘Any dream will do” rightly fits the initiative, she added, “It doesn’t matter what the dream is, what matters is how you go about getting there. And, a chance to follow your dream is the most precious thing in the world.”

Mayuri Upadhya – It’s truly an honour to be associated and be a part of such an event, such a beautiful initiative. And, Akshaya Patra definitely is doing a fantastic job. I have seen the documentaries on Akshaya Patra’s process of working in The Great Kitchens series, and they are right from the grass root level. I think every child is so different, every child is gifted with a very different intelligence whether it’s with art or sports. And, what we should do as a society and as an initiative is to create the best and suitable environment for it to flourish and blossom. And, that is being held and Akshaya Patra has taken the forefront in it.” She also acknowledged and appreciated the efforts of the mentors in guiding and coaching the children.

Samyuktha Hegde – “After seeing all of them (children) today, I am really glad and happy that our country is growing towards the idea of not just becoming engineers and doctors, but everything else that a child wants to be. I am glad to be a part of this.”

Arun Sagar – “If there’s innocence, we are all children. This was a really good act. I really liked it. Children’s performance was superb. What’s truly exciting to me is, I learn more when I work with children. It feels like I’m with God. For the organisation that is involved in this initiative must provide opportunities to all the children and also encourage them.”

For the complete video of the event, follow us on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/akshayapatra

The Journey Will Continue…
Akshaya Patra is looking forward to scaling up this initiative to transform lives of 5000 beneficiary children in the year 2018-19.

We would love to hear from you, so please use the below comment section to share your thoughts and feedbacks.

Read more about the event at Giving Every Dream A Chance 2018.

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