Ambassadors of change

Child Rights Club

When children are empowered to take action and defend their basic rights, a lot can change. From stopping child marriages to bringing their friends back to school, the members of Child Rights Clubs (CRCs) in various parts of the state have made a positive impact in not only their school but also communities. These CRCs were started by Bangalore Rural Educational and Developmental Society (BREADS), a Bengaluru-based non-profit organisation, in various government schools as a way to involve children to address issues that directly affect them. “While adults can discuss possible solutions for the issues that children face, we felt that it is important to involve children in the decision-making. Hence, CRCs were started in 2012,” shares Fr Joy Nedumparambil, executive director, BREADS. “The objective was to enable children to discuss issues that they have may in exercising their rights such as their right to survive, protection and participation.”

Action-oriented

Since the inception, the CRCs have brought in a considerable difference in the way children approach issues that affect them. Not only the clubs have made them more socially conscious, but also more action-oriented. What’s more, many of them are confident, passionate about the cause and are willing to go out of their way to help their friends.

After all, what are friends for? “I have been a member of my school’s CRC since Class IV. Our monthly meetings are crucial as they help us come up with solutions to problems we are facing and how we can help our friends more effectively. It also brings me a lot of happiness when we make
a positive difference in our friends’ lives,” says Bhuvenshwari, a Class VII student of Dr B R Ambedkar School in Ballari district. When Bhuvenshwari talks, you can make out how
passionate she is about ensuring that the rights of her friends and schoolmates are protected, at any cost. Many other CRC members are just as passionate as she is to ensure that other children like her have a brighter future. “When we were able to help and ensure that our friends got the needed support, it felt great. Through the CRC, we were able to make positive changes in our school as well,” shares Eeramma, a PUC student in Raichur district, who was a member of her school’s CRC.

So, how do the CRCs work? At first, the children are trained by volunteers of the
organisation on their rights. Later, they form CRCs in government schools where they are introduced to child rights, human rights and how to run a CRC in their school. Each CRC is a group of children headed by a leader they elect, under the supervision of a teacher. During their monthly meetings, the club focuses on various issues related to their rights and how they can be overcome. CRCs are run under CREAM (Child Rights Education and Action Movement), a programme that facilitates the children’s right to participate, promote and protect their rights. Currently, CRCs are active in 10 districts: Bengaluru, Ballari, Bidar, Chitradurga, Davanagere, Kalaburagi, Mysuru, Raichur, Ramnagara and Yadagiri.

Much of the work done by the CRCs has received a positive response from the communities. “The children are able to get a sense of satisfaction as they are able to make a positive impact on their friends’ lives and their school,” says Fr Joy.

However, it’s left to one’s capacity to skilfully and effectively help others in need.

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