Youths choose innovative ways for public service

Youths choose innovative ways for public service

It is Sunday and in a park in south Delhi's Shahpur Jat urban village, a 17-year-old boy is talking about the environment, hygiene and sanitation to a discerning audience of children.

It is not an unusual activity, but a weekly classroom session offering holistic education to the deprived and those studying in government schools.

The brainchild of Aakash Pawar, the initiative began when he started teaching "basic things" to three underprivileged girls from his neighbourhood in 2007.

It instantly became quite popular and generated good response from children of slums and government schools - who had no access to quality education.

So he started his own NGO, Nei Tamana, in 2010.

Like Pawar, Maneka Sharma, 18, visited a slum area in Gurgaon and realised water is a scarce commodity for most poor people and decided to create an awareness drive among children to conserve the commodity.

To spread this message, she wrote a book on water conservation, ‘Rohan on a Water Saving Spree’.

This self-published book became so popular that her own school ordered several copies. These initiatives helped their initiators to not only gain recognition but also earned them gold medals.

They were recently conferred the “Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards” - a school-level recognition programme for volunteer community service and would receive certificates and medals in Washington and prize money of Rs 50,000 each.

Speaking about his initiative, Pawar, a class 11 student, said, “I don't use conventional tools of teaching because their basic are not clear, even though they are studying in government schools.”

This is why Pawar uses unconventional methods like games to help his students learn. “I play spelling games, atlas games and mathematical quizzes with them so that they improve,” he said.

She has also adapted her book into an easy to play "snakes and ladders" game that children can understand. Now, the Class 12 student moderates water conservation sessions in various schools and societies.

Both of them are very excited about the award. “I would save this money for my future NGO,” she said.