'Our City Our Challenge' sees 1600 students' participation
Young children turn change makers
Bengaluru: Despite the pandemic, over 1,600 students came together to solve climate, civic and societal challenges at the 4th edition of the Bala Janaagraha. Due to Covid restrictions, the event was held online.
'Our City Our Challenge' project is a civic project activity that aims at making children think beyond symptoms and about root causes, engage with their local communities and feel empowered to be a changemaker while also building in students' critical skills for their future.
This year saw 898 teams with around 1,691 students from schools all over the country participating in the event. These students interacted with 50,000 citizens and 184 local governance officials in a collective effort through the event.
The project activity was launched on November 23, 2020. Students from grades 6-12 were given time till April 15, 2021, to plan and execute their projects. They were given the option to work on topics such as Road Safety, Climate Change, Local Governance, Water Conservation, Waste Management, COVID-19 issues, etc. With the constant support from teachers and mentors from Bala Janaagraha, the project activity received a lot of entries. On July 16, the jury announced 39 teams as winners and 27 teams are runners-up.
This year the top five topics chosen by students were Waste Management (194 projects), Road Safety (179), Water Conservation (171), COVID-19 awareness (127) and Climate Change (67).
"The pandemic has demonstrated the importance of citizen participation. These youth have overcome numerous obstacles and displayed enormous hope and potential for the future of this country. Each project is unique, persistent, and showcases innovative and sustainable solutions across the various themes," said Prarthana Ramesh, Head, Bala Janaagraha.
Informing people about the hazards of improper e-waste disposal, students of Maithry Vidyanikethan, Bengaluru, K Gorakshith Rao and Kuberan A focused on e-Waste Management. They stopped 97 kg e-waste from entering the landfill by collecting it from friends and acquaintances. The duo completed collecting e-waste within 37 days and approached NGO Sahaas for guidance and support.
Students from Bluebell Public school, Bengaluru designed a prototype automatic waste segregation bin that can segregate wet waste and dry waste, by identifying the moisture content. The team received an appreciation letter from the BBMP, and they promised to patent it. As per BBMP, they will be including it as part of their waste management system.
Advocating for a gender-inclusive society, a team from Delhi Public School, Varanasi, led by Pranav Donapathy, addressed issues faced by the LGBTQ+ community. They conducted extensive research on the subject and tried to identify the reasons behind it. They also conducted a webinar for fellow students, teachers & parents to display their findings. They concluded the exercise by conducting interviews to assess the general opinion and perceptions about the LGBTQ+ community.
"For our cities to be safe, inclusive and sustainable, they need to be child friendly. Further, children and youth in India's cities need to be engaged in civic matters for developing all-around leadership in any career they choose. Janaagraha is committed to further expanding 'Our City Our Challenge' in the coming years as an important step towards child-friendly cities," said Srikanth Viswanathan, CEO, Janaagraha.