23,000 children attended a five day Bal Chetna Shibir organized simultaneously in 92 municipal corporation villages of Ahmadabad. More than 50 teachers and 200 volunteers participated in conducting these shibirs.
The kids in these villages grow up in an environment where at a very young age itself they are taught to fend for their families. While taking up the adult responsibilities they also begin to stumble upon the stresses that normally an adult faces. There are umpteen cases in the news today of depression among children as young as 8 years old. It is not surprising that the suicide rates have gone up in the age group of 10 to 15 years.
The Art of Living Bal chetna shibir is a dynamic program that helps them get them back to their childhood while equipping them with the right tools to handle their responsibilities and stress in life. With the help of pranayama and meditation the course helped them get rid of their negative emotions. Every child opened up to the individual and group processes, the teachers leading those sessions witnessed their participation ecstatically.
“I felt a lot of peace within me while doing the meditation. The games were so much fun and I feel I learnt a lot. Please keep coming to conduct such classes. We will miss you.” shared one of the students.
Some children secretly confessed during the course that they were addicted to smoking and even some adulterated drugs. But now that they had done the course they did not want to continue indulging in these habits. They felt strong enough to give them up.
These 92 Shibirs were a part of the pilot program in association with the Municipal School Board of the city. The principals and teachers of the respective schools were very impressed with the work led by the Art of Living.
A month after the shibirs were conducted, the school teachers reported that there was an improvement in the school examination results this year. The Art of Living course allowed these young kids to become peaceful and quiet from inside. This helped them to pay more attention in class.
After listening to the experiences shared in front of the entire team, the heads of the Municipal School Board, Ms. Nalini Poptani and Dr. Labdhir Desai sincerely acknowledged the efforts put by all the teachers and volunteers and invited the team to do more shibirs like these in the remaining schools. They felt that these Bal Chetana Shibirs would help the school children to become responsible citizens and successful individuals.
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Writer: Asmita Aarshi, Graphics: Gurudatt Anveker