Thursday, September 18

From India to South Korea: My experience at a UNOSDP Youth Leadership Camp

This is a blog by 21-year old Radhika Jeenwal's about her experience at a UNOSDP (UN Office on Sport for Development and Peace) Youth Leadership Camp in South Korea. Radhika is a Magic Bus Training and Monitoring Officer in charge of a team of 64 Community Youth Leaders who work in the field every day delivering the Magic Bus sport for development programme to 1800 children across South Delhi.

Radhika shares her experience of the camp here.

"The United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Peace (UNOSDP) organised its 12th Youth Leadership Camp in Gwangju, a beautiful city in the Republic of Korea from August 19th – 30th 2014. I feel extremely happy and fortunate to have been chosen to represent Magic Bus at this camp.

               Youth Leadership Camp held in Gwangju, Republic of Korea               
Over 33 young boys and girls from all over the world participated in the Camp. In these 12 days, I learnt a great deal. I left the camp with a deeper understanding of how sport provides a forum to develop discipline, confidence, leadership, and other core principles such as tolerance, cooperation and respect. I learnt that sport is a powerful vehicle through which the United Nations can leverage as a tool to achieve its goals, in particular the 8 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Sport should therefore be seen as an engine for development, not as a mere by-product.

The Youth Leadership Camp emphasised the potential that youth have to invoke change in their community. By helping youth develop their leadership skills in Sport for Development this programme not only contributes to the personal development of young people, it also contributes to community development. By providing opportunities for young people like me to develop and exercise our leadership skills, we are better able to build the capacity of our communities and respond to their pressing needs.

I have tried to capture the most significant learnings from my experience at the Youth Leadership Camp, below.

Day 1: Introduction, leadership and peace and Right To Play

It is important to know what kind of communication is needed for different situations. There are five basic types of communication:

·         Interpersonal
·         Intrapersonal
·         Group or team
·         Public
·         Mass media

Types of leadership:
  •         Inclusive leadership
  •         Authoritarian leadership
Day 2: Sports and peace-building with the International Table Tennis Federation

The International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) is the governing body for all national Table Tennis associations. The role of the ITTF includes overseeing rules and regulations, and seeking technological improvement for the sport of Table Tennis. Table Tennis is one of the most popular sports worldwide. For many amateurs it is an economical and easy way of having fun and for professional players, it’s a passion.

Day 3: Adapting physical activities for those with a disability with Play&Train - partners of International Paralympics Committee

The International Paralympics Committee (IPC) has an exceptional track record of using sport to showcase what can be achieved by people with disability, on a global level.


Sport is a powerful tool for changing perceptions. It is an opportunity to recover/rediscover life.

Day 4: Leadership through Football with the English Football Association

The Association’s international leadership and volunteering programme, Changing Lives, was established in 2005 to provide an opportunity for young football leaders to experience volunteering abroad whilst leaving a legacy by sharing their own leadership skills with other young leaders from the host country.

The activities included:
  •         Introduction about Football
  •         Warm-up games
  •         Organising and managing a Football activity session
  •         Organising and running event with NW SWAGS Swimming Club, South Africa
Day 5: Swimming session and water safety games with NW SWAGS Swimming Club, South Africa

The first water experience of children is crucial, and therefore games play a big part during teaching. Knowledge of water safety games is very important for 'Learn to Swim' instructors.

Day 6: Peace and friendship in every corner of the global village through Taekwondo with World Taekwondo Federation

The World Taekwondo Federation works to provide effective international governance of Taekwondo as an Olympic sport. The federation helps promote, expand, and improve the practice of Taekwondo worldwide in light of its educational, cultural, and sports values and to promote fair play, youth development and education as well as to encourage peace and cooperation through participation in sports.

                                                   Taekwondo session led by World Taekwondo Federation
Day 7: Child protection/ Safeguarding youth and Sport for Development with Right to Play

This self-audit tool is an ideal way to measure how far (or near!) our organisation is from meeting international standards on safeguarding and protecting children in sport, and where we need to improve.

Day 8: Gender equality in sport with Korean Air

Gender is a social construct that outlines the roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a particular society believes are appropriate for men and women. Gender differences between men and women do not necessarily imply inequality. However, globally, women are particularly disadvantaged by gender constructs which prevent them from fully realising their rights, accessing resources, and harnessing opportunities.

Day 9: EPICS Forum

This forum is organised every year in Gwangju and is based on the concept of ‘Sports meets Art & Culture’ aimed at University students and other youth. At the end of this forum, Wilfried Lemke, Special Adviser on Sport for Development and Peace to the UN Secretary-General, asked all of us if we were aware of the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It was a proud moment for me since I was the only one amongst the 33 participants who knew all the 8 MDGs and earned Mr. Lemke’s open appreciation along with a UNOSDP badge. This moment was really special. :o)

Day 10: Excursion day

We went around the city to explore and understand the culture, tradition, cuisine and rituals of South Korea.

Day 11: Action Plan/ prevention of HIV-infection and HIV-related discrimination among young people with AIDS

We were given some basic knowledge about HIV and AIDS, after which we took part in a quiz on the same topic. I scored well and was also rewarded with special appreciation.

Day 12: Promising practices

The concluding session saw representatives from each participating organisation demonstrate the work that their organisation does on Sport for Development. Like everyone else, I took this opportunity to share a glimpse of the innovative activity-based sessions that the Youth Leaders at Magic Bus hold every week with children from marginalised communities on the Magic Bus programme.

Certificate of participation in the Youth Leadership Camp
This was a 12-day journey in my life which I feel has really changed me, not only as a youth leader but also as a person. I would like to express my gratitude to Magic Bus once again for giving me the chance to take part in this camp. Last but not the least, I would  like to thank our Magic Bus CEO, Pratik Kumar, who left me with very encouraging words that filled me with a sense of confidence and ownership just before I departed from Delhi to South Korea.



Thursday, September 4

A historic time for sport for development in India

From the desk of Magic Bus CEO, Pratik Kumar

I am very happy to share that Magic Bus has been awarded the Rashtriya Khel Protsahan Puraskar (National Sports Promotion Award), by the President of India, Hon. Sri Pranab Mukherjee, at his official residence, the Rashtrapati Bhawan, on 29th August 2014. The award recognises corporate entities, institutions and individuals who have played a significant role in the area of sports promotion and development. It is the first time that an award has gone to an NGO for promoting Sports for All and using sports as a tool for achieving serious development goals.



We believe that this award is a strong endorsement of our internationally recognised curriculum and methodology of using sports as a tool for bringing about social development. It is a recognition of our tried and tested 15-year old approach where we train local young volunteers to deliver our unique activity-based programme to children by becoming role models and mentors to them. Sports acts as the perfect hook to keep children and communities engaged in our programme as we embark on a long journey of bringing about changes in behaviours and practices in the areas of education, health, gender, nutrition, sanitation, leadership all the way to livelihood.

President of India, Hon. Sri Pranab Mukherjee, presenting the Award to Pratik Kumar, CEO, Magic Bus
The national award comes within months of Magic Bus winning the prestigious international Laureus Sport for Good Award, the first Indian entity to win this global recognition.

I believe that this national recognition will be a turning point in our history as we poise to take the next big leap in our endeavour to make a positive difference to the lives of a million children and youth in India and across the globe.

We are very grateful to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India, for their recognition of our work and approach, which is today changing more than 260,000 lives in 19 States across India. We are also indebted to all our supporters and partners who have believed in us and been a part of this wonderful journey.

Find out more about our work at www.magicbus.org.

Pratik Kumar, CEO, Magic Bus

Thursday, August 28

Magic Bus breaking the cycle of poverty, one child at a time

By Nidhi Singh, Guest Author at YourStory

The true potential of mankind is an unimaginable force that can do wonders if harnessed. As rightly said by the first African American President of the USA, “It’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself, that you realize your true potential.” And that is what Magic Bus is all about. It is about breaking the poverty cycle, one child at a time, and helping children transform the world around them. It is about catalysing change in communities and children. It is about creating ‘magic,’ as the name suggests, all across the nation.



How it all started 

A young player from India’s National Rugby Team, Matthew Spacie, used to practice daily opposite Mumbai’s famous Fashion Street, a hub for street children. Being the warm-hearted man that he was, he couldn't resist inviting the Fashion Street boys over for a game. As time passed by, Matthew began to notice positive behavioural changes in the boys — a direct result of being part of a team and overcoming challenges together. These boys, who had grown up on the streets, became more goal-oriented and wanted to improve themselves and their attitudes towards others.

Matthew discovered that the growing influence of this approach not only helped them transform their attitude towards life, but also taught them how to challenge their current realities and overturn their obstacles into a route towards well-being and success. Over a period of the next 10 years, this crystallized into a formal pedagogy that is now known as the Magic Bus Sport for Development curriculum. An approach that would go on to redefine the lives and destinies of many.

How it works

Magic Bus started in the year 1999 and has now expanded to 250,000 children as well as 8000 youth in 19 different states across the country. Supported by Cox and Kings and Cleartrip enabled an academically grounded ‘sport for development’ curriculum to be established.


By training local, community-based young people to deliver long-term programmes that focus on education, health and gender equity, Magic Bus enables children to have more choice and control in their lives to bring themselves out of poverty.  A comprehensive curriculum that uses activities and sport and a long term-engagement are delivered through a child-friendly mentoring approach. At periodic intervals, the mentor provides constant feedback, and monitors the child’s behaviour to bring about proven behavioural changes.

When the child grows up, she or he has the choice of joining Connect, a supplementary programme that links young people to higher education or job opportunities. As a result of this marvellous work, more than 250,000 children and youth have access to better education and improved health as they work towards strong livelihood options for themselves as adults.

Magic Bus uses its concept to not only pull children out of poverty but also to change the mindset of their parents and families. For this reason, the World Bank Development Marketplace Award was presented to the NGO during its formative years.

How obstacles are tackled

Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm. When a stranger enters a community where all is unknown and throws a ball in the air, everyone gravitates towards the ball. That’s the power and attraction of play. Despite this, the attitude towards girls remains a hurdle across geographies and regions. Getting girls out of their domestic duties and into the public sphere is a hurdle. To avert this in the best possible way, Magic Bus makes use of advocacy tools and tactics, including parents’ meetings, door-to-door campaigns and community-level tournaments to gain support for the intervention, and bring all stakeholders together to build a community that is gender-equal and child-friendly.


I left my old perception to think afresh and hopefully I can do a thousandth of what Magic Bus does to change my Motherland, my home — the nation of many with all hearts beating as one — India.

Original Article by Nidhi Singh at Your Story. Edited for this blog by the Magic Bus Communications Team.

"Nidhi Singh is a Computer Engineering student at NTU Singapore & a Global Evangelist at YourStory.com. She has a passion for cars, non-fiction reads and music. Her hope is to create a dent in the universe, in her own way, some day. When she is not trying to find more opportunities to lay her hands on, you can find her writing, traveling or gorging on chocolate and cheese. ... read more on social.yourstory.com."

Thursday, August 21

Magic Bus Children attend 'Know Your Museum' Workshop

National Museum, New Delhi, India's largest museum, became a learning hub this summer. 360 Magic Bus children along with a group of our Community Youth Leaders (CYLs) and Youth Mentors (YMs) got the opportunity to participate in 'Know Your Museum', a workshop for children aged 11-16.


The workshop focused on developing children's critical thinking abilities and creative expression through art and craft. They learnt through activities such as clay modelling which require brain storming, and other creative group work to build self-confidence and a positive attitude.

The main objectives of the various workshop were:
  • To acquaint children with India's rich cultural heritage
  • To create awareness among children about various traditional arts and crafts
  • To motivate children to preserve and conserve their heritage and join hands in restoring some of the dying arts and crafts of the country
At the workshop, children were divided into 3 groups to participate in 3 different activities:
  • Clay Modelling
  • Paper Toys/Mask Making
  • Madhubani Painting


The workshop began with an introduction and captivating guided tour around the Museum. Children learned about the various collections of the National Museum such as Sculptures in Stone, Bronze and Terracota, Arms, Armour, Decorative Arts, Jewellery, Manuscripts, Miniatures and Tanjore Paintings, Textiles, Numismatics, Epigraphy, Central Asian Antiquities, Pre-Columbian American and Western Art Collections. Gasps and moments of awe were heard coming from the children as they appreciated the work in front of them.


After the tour the children were taken to the Creative Work Gallery where they were divided into three groups for a skill building workshop. The primary goal of the workshop was to inspire interest in archaeological artifacts and Indian history. They were introduced to exploring, experimenting and expressing themselves in the form of art and craft, and constantly guided and helped during the workshop.


At the end of the workshop children thanked the National Museum workshop staff. They left with significantly greater knowledge about the importance of Indian history, arts and culture. Just like in their sport for development sessions, this experiential learning workshop has given them a platform to build capabilities in active engagement, motivation and depth of learning.

To find out more about Magic Bus, please visit www.magicbus.org


Thursday, August 14

Delhi Begumpur Community’s Girl Child Star: Sonu

Sonu attending a Magic Bus session 
Sixteen-year old Sonu lives in the Begumpur Community in South Delhi. Health, hygiene and education issues affect the community, and most children don't go to school regularly. 

Residents are mostly forced migrants from the East Indian state of Bihar, fleeing the agricultural crises that had left millions impoverished. In Delhi, they find jobs as guards and drivers. Those with neither the skills nor capital to open their own petty shops end up working as daily wage labourers. 

I grew up almost like a boy in the company of my two elder brothers. Use of foul language and picking up petty fights were my forte to the point where other children feared me. I was rowdy and always adamant to have things my way. Most of my day was spent whiling away time just doing this and that, I eventually dropped out of school after sixth grade - attending school just never interested me,” says Sonu.


Sonu at a Barclays 'Cricket for Change' session
Then things started to change. “I enrolled onto Magic Bus sessions a year ago. It was great fun, from day one,” said Sonu, sharing her excitement. The sessions that Sonu is talking about are held 40 times a year, and last for 2 hours each. The entire learning-through-games approach is called the Sport for Development curriculum, and is designed specifically for children like Sonu.

Sonu in her school uniform with Magic Bus mentors
It was during one of the Magic Bus sessions where the importance of education and going to school was being addressed that Sonu felt the penny drop. “I realised that over the first few months of attending sessions, I had become different.  I observed an immense change in my attitude and behaviour. I stopped picking fights with other children, I was becoming friendly and kinder, and started to respect and care for my parents,” expressed Sonu.

She has gradually developed an interest in studies and spends her evenings trying hard to understand the lessons taught at school,” adds her proud mother with a smile.

Youth Mentor, Amar, and Community Youth Leader, Deepak, in-charge of the Begumpur Community, spotted a spark for cricket in the young girl during Barclays Cricket for Change sessions. “The energy and enthusiasm Sonu brings to the playground has boosted confidence in many other girls". 

The Begumpur settlement, like any other poor neighbourhood in Delhi, is not quite open to developing girl children, but the change in Sonu is so significant that every friend of hers is inspired. "You could say that she has single-handedly inspired other girls to enrol on to Magic Bus sessions”, said Amar.

Today Sonu is back at her local school studying in the eighth grade. When she grows up she wants to open a commodity store in her community to make life easier for the residents who have to travel far to make every day purchases. 


Find out more about Magic Bus at www.magicbus.org

Thursday, August 7

Letter from 16-year old Magic Bus volunteer

Slums in growing mega cities have drawn various responses from onlookers; from outright anger and disgust to passing nonchalance or complete resignation to their inevitability. We have found their inhabitants to be an object of our sympathy, a subject of our idle solution-rich, tea-table conversations, and a protagonist to numerous Bollywood and Hollywood inspired rags-to-riches stories.

How many of us have ever looked at them for inspiration? How many of us have ever thought that there is a lesson or two we could learn from them?

Here is a letter from a 16-year old whose life took an unforeseen turn when she decided to volunteer in one of Magic Bus' intervention areas.


Dear Mr. Thomas,

I would like to thank you for giving me this incredible opportunity. My time at Magic Bus was an experience of a lifetime. I felt like I was a part of something that mattered, that was meaningful and gave me perspective to be a better person.

The enthusiasm and positive outlook of these children gave me so much to think about. They knew how to experience joy from the common pleasures of life like being with others and participating in play. Even though we come from such diverse backgrounds, we still had so much in common. We were all kids with dreams and aspirations for our lives. 

Initially I was nervous that I might feel guilty for having the life I did and that they would judge me for that, but the warmth and excitement that they welcomed me with took all that nervousness away and made me very comfortable in their surroundings. Infact, they were all quite fascinated about me being from America and wanting to spend time with them.

It was so touching to learn that some of the mentors were people who had grown up on the Magic Bus programme and now wanted to give back to the community in whatever way they could. 

This was an India I had never seen before and I must admit I was a bit scared. After my time at Magic Bus, not only have I widened my horizons but I have also learnt that it is important to enjoy the simple things in life and appreciate whatever it is we have. These kids taught me more than I could ever teach them. I only wish I was there longer to continue working with them. 

Nevertheless, I will certainly remain a part of Magic Bus here in New York.  I would love to help promote the organization and I hope to see you and the children in the near future when I return to India. 

Please give my thanks and appreciation to Prachi and the rest of the Magic Bus team. 

Sincerely,
Arya Bhalla


Would you or anyone you know like to volunteer with Magic Bus on exciting upcoming events and projects? Contact volunteer@magicbusindia.org.

Thursday, July 17

Magic Bus' Deepika Rana gets Gold International Award for Young People

"The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart." - Helen Keller

Meet Deepika, our International Award for Young People (IAYP) Gold Awardee for her selfless services to society.
Deepika receiving the award
Deepika is 23 years old and lives with her 3 elder brothers and parents in New Delhi, India. She has graduated from Delhi University Khasa College and is working as an Assistant Manager for the State's Training programme at Magic Bus India Foundation. Her role involves assisting with the training of Magic Bus' field staff who deliver its programme in the field. Prior to this recent promotion Deepika was working as a Magic Bus Training and Monitoring Officer.

Deepika has had an interest in sport from her early childhood and this interest grew into sports excellence in the game of hockey. She has been participating in National School Games Championships and State University Championships; and has won trophies and medals through her representations.

The turning point was on 26th Jan 2008 when she was attending her college in the city of Delhi. She had just been asked for an interview by a local newspaper (NDP) for an article which was titled 'UPCOMING CHAMPIONS IN DELHI UNIVERSITY, CHAK DE GENERATION'. The article highlighted the achievements of Deepika and her college hockey team mates and recognised them for their 'wonderful achievements', and as 'emerging stars of the campus'. She remembered herself thinking that what had happened to her was the best thing in the world!



The love for the game of hockey was in her. She was attracted to hockey for its good reputation - as a clean and healthy sport, and if played in the right spirit with the right guidance then it could contribute to positive social integration.

Her dream was to develop hockey in India, especially at the grassroots level so that the country could be represented on a global level by both men and women. To achieve this, she feels that the sport needs appropriate exposure; a new coaching philosophy; more playing spaces and job opportunities for hockey players in India. She says “The game of hockey should always be like the shoes of children. Perfectly tailored and adapted to them."

More about The International Award for Young People 

The IAYP is divided into 5 sections:

SERVICE:
To learn how to provide a useful service to others

Deepika has worked extensively with underprivileged children and youth in India through Magic Bus, and helped them to progress with their education and gain employment. She has also referred youth she has worked with for jobs and vocational courses. She is a strong role model for her younger peers.

ADVENTUROUS JOURNEY:
To encourage a spirit of adventure and discovery

Deepika has participated in adventure activities such as climbing, rappelling, trekking in a remote part of Mahrashtra.

SKILLS:
To improve on your skills: either a new skill or an existing one

Deepika has developed basic IT skills.

PHYSICAL RECREATION:
To encourage and participate in physical recreation and improvement of performance

Deepika has played hockey at a competitive level; she has competed in the State Women's Championship, represented Delhi University at Inter-University tournaments, taken part in the Delhi Soft Hockey Championship and has participated in the National Games three times at Secondary School level.

RESIDENTIAL PROJECT:
To broaden one's experience through interaction with others in an unfamiliar residential setting with unfamiliar people through a purposeful activity.

Deepika has imparted sports for development and youth development training to peer educators at Plan India in Jharkhand.

To qualify for a IAYP Award one needs to complete the requirements of 4 different sections which are measured in terms of Progress, Proficiency and Standard of effort. Participants also have to maintain an IAYP record book in which they have to highlight all their work in each section, qualified by an authorised signatory. For the Gold category, 18 months worth of entries are required for all sections. Deepika completed all five sections and won the IAYP Gold Award.



Our heartiest congratulations to Deepika and wish her the best for the future!