Sensitizing young minds….
Part of being a person is about helping others!
Is it possible to teach empathy and compassion to children? Is it realistic to ask Middle school students to think about people whom they might never meet? Is it easy to make children realise that they are worthy of positive contributions to the society irrespective of their age?
Cliches, aren’t these…! But are we in the process missing out on inculcating an extremely important life skill in our students? The following few pages will trace the importance of making community outreach programmes a part of the school curriculum and their consequent benefits.
Each time an individual involves himself in community service there is an opportunity to learn new ideas , understand new perspectives and ultimately grow as an individual. The areas and the ways by which the community can be impacted by outreach programmes are numerous. The significance of these programmes at school level is immense as it is a place where both the head and the heart of a nation is developed. Secondly when large no. of students in a school participate in such programmes a perceptible change happens.
SIGNIFICANCE OF COMMUNITY OUTREACH PROGRAMMES FOR STUDENTS
· They learn that they have a responsibility as future citizens to know about the world around them and to respect and appreciate diversity.
· They also learn to identify problems and find resources to address these problems.
· Through these programmes students are introduced to new places and people and educated about issues in their community.
· Students develop heightened awareness and sensitivity to the needs of others in their community, and may develop a conviction to serve.
· Students apply academic, social and personal skills to improve the community.
· They are involved in making decisions that have tangible results.
· They develop Leadership and Team Building Skills.
IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF PLANNING A WHOLE SCHOOL OUTREACH PROGRAMME
Planning is an integral component of any successful programme. Following factors can be considered during planning:-
· Availability of multiple options enabling students to choose projects corresponding to their interest.
· Integration with the core curriculum.
· Age appropriateness (Grade wise)of the project
· Time duration required to complete the project.
· Other engagements of the students
· Easy availability of resources needed with effective guidelines
· Continuous motivation to keep children on task.
TYPES OF OUTREACH PROGRAMMES WHICH CAN BE TAKEN UP BY SCHOOLS
A first hand analysis of the challenges faced by the society needs to be done before finalising the nature of the projects. Some of the suggestive programmes are:-
Campaigns for General Awareness - Each month can be marked for a particular campaign which can be distributed Grade-wise. The Campaigns will involve the students to research on the topic, gather facts, design posters, leaflets , reach out to RWAs of various residential societies, Parents during PTMs, and to entire student community of the school to spread awareness regarding critical issues like
1) Anti Cracker Campaign
2) Blood Donation Drive and Camp
3) Drive to Fitness
4) Collection of Packed Food Material, Stationery items, Toys and Clothes to be donated to the orphanages.
5) Sharing lunch with inmates of Old Age Homes and carrying gifts and monetary support for them. The sensitization campaign towards proper treatment of senior citizens can also be taken up.
6) Adopting a Market place, a Heritage site or a nearby park and ensuring that the place remains clean round the year by taking up cleanliness drives and sensitizing local people.
7) Awareness regarding Importance of Eye Donation.
8) Following traffic rules for personal and public safety.
9) Awareness regarding Importance of Rain Water harvesting, planting more trees, waste management etc.
10) Promoting commitment towards one's Fundamental Duties.
With properly planned campaigns the school can ensure participation of maximum students with less involvement of time and more benefits. The children will simultaneously not only become aware of their society and its need but also in the process of campaigning hone their research, presentation and inter- personal skills.
Apart from the above there are many ways which can be taken up by the students as Term projects to reach out to the community.
1) Tutoring 6) School dropouts
2) Bullying Prevention 7) Disaster Services
3) Civic Engagement 8) Substance Abuse Prevention
4) Violence Prevention 9) Gender discrimination
5) Family planning Awareness 10) Health Services for poor
These are some of the projects which the children can opt as per their interests and submit a report on the procedure taken up, the challenges and success ratio. This will provide the student an ability to think critically, work out solutions to problems, handle people and also to analyse their impact on others. They will be able to realise the hidden potential in them and their power as individuals to transform lives positively. The project supervisors should ensure enthusiasm and commitment through proper guidance. More help and details on above projects is available on www.servicelearning.org .
School Management and Teachers can directly contribute by indulging in the following:
1) Adopting a Small School( Gramin/ underpriveleged) and donating/sharing their resources viz.. old benches and desks , black boards, stationeries, school dress etc, sponsor some students who are performing brilliantly, share school infrastructure after School, ask school teachers to take up guest lectures for such students.
2) Conducting sessions for Parents and Local Community on Adolescent issues and good parenting.
3) Conducting Free Health Check up Camps for the underprivileged.
4) Organising Evening School for adults in the school premises.
The possibilities are endless but a strong will and commitment to a better world for everyone is a pre-requisite for the success of any community outreach programme.
Being an integral part of the society we cannot remain isolated and indifferent towards community needs. As Educators we should empower our students to address social, environmental and global issues and to realize the obligation, value and delight in serving others. The law of Interdependence is a reality, thus, all the links of our society have to be strengthened and its responsibility is on each one of us.
Let’s give ourselves to Public GOOD!