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Saturday, March 15, 2014

One Year of BalaVidya at Coimbatore

About BalaVidya
For the past 4 years we have been working towards the development of children by facilitating their learning process and self-discovery.
BalaVidya is one of our initiatives that aims at bringing mindfulness in children and help them increase their awareness towards their self and surroundings.

Through this program we want to bring about in children:
  • Awareness: paying attention to oneself and the surrounding through observation and reflection.
  • Acceptance: being non-judgmental and positive towards life
  • Stillness: silence in their heart and mind for them to be more alert and receptive

For children to develop these qualities we encourage them to explore ancient methods of yoga and meditation combined with engaging story telling and other activities. The activities involve their physical, mental and spiritual aspects and help them connect deeper with their selves. We also train the teachers in the school during this program so that the effort can later be integrated within their system and be applied and sustained.
Our programs were mostly conducted in few rural schools here in Karnataka and we always feel the need to reach more children.

When we saw the potential to conduct BalaVidya program in Coimbatore too, we wanted to first reach out to rural children there as well. After many school visits we finalized to work with Primary Union Panchayat School @ Sundapalayam, Coimbatore after getting due approval from District Education Officer.

The Program @ Sundapalayam Govt School, Coimbatore

We started working with the school for the academic year 2013-14. The school has a strength of 125 children. We engaged weekly once for about 1 to 2 hours with children and our program with the school consisted of:
  1. Yoga and Meditation for Children through BalaVidya Stories and activities
  2. library program: This is an effort to create a joyful reading space and environment for children, to make books accessible to them. The goal is to run a library program that is completely designed and run by teachers and children.
  3. Spoken English classes

The Team

Geetha: Founder of Ankur, her experience lies in the fields of Learning & Development and Organizational Development.  She is also a teacher of Yoga. Designing and delivering workshops that strike a chord in people and facilitating them to identify who they really are is her mission.She is the co-ordinator for the BalaVidya Program in Coimbatore. She Primarily facilitated the Yoga and Meditation program.

Prasad Naveen: A facilitator at Ankur with great passion to integrate eastern Spiritual practices, Western Psychology, Art, Singing, Dance and Outbound activities like trekking into holistic approach towards life and self discovery.
Prasad conducted yoga and meditation classes and specialized in movement related exercises.

Rema K Giridhar: Rema with her skills in Phonetics and teaching English set the pace and tone of the reading culture.  Her skill in phonetics gave the required break-through to reach the language to the children.

 Dr. K. V. Jayashree, Counsellor & Trainee Psychotherapist (Transactional Analysis) facilitated the library and reading programs. Helped build the reading culture among children by encouraging them to read and comprehend

Arulmozhi K.:Trainee Counsellor (Transactional Analysis) – Facilitated the library and reading programs. Helped build the reading culture among children by encouraging them to read and comprehend.

How has the school benefited 
  • Reading culture has been introduced. Book reading, story telling, role plays and other activities are conducted during their library periods.
  • The school has integrated the practice of BalaVidya Yoga Asanas and simple meditation techniques; these are delivered by the school teachers.
  • Teaching phonetics (English) is now a regular practice in the school.
  • The confidence of the children towards the language English has increased.
  • Children have a lot of enthusiasm to learn yoga and meditation through interesting stories and activities. We see positive shifts in perspectives and attitudes of many children that comes to light in their day to day life events and we feel that introducing mindfulness to them is worth a thing.
What teachers say

-        Our school students were very enthusiastic to see the loving approach of the Facilitators.  They expect and wait for them to come.
-        After the Facilitators started coming to school, students have lost their fear towards English and are freely attempting to read.
-        Teaching them phonetics has increased their ability to read.
-        Yoga was taught systematically and it is very useful for us and we practice Balavidya Asanas regularly in school.
-        Children were very interested in drawing/coloring activities.
-        The approach of play and rhymes before starting the class keeps the students interested in the class.
-        We wish that this initiative does not stop with our school.  It will be useful to all if taken to other schools too.
  ( Translated from the feedback documented by the School teachers)

What children feel
( Collected from the conversations with children)
  •  I like everything in yoga class.Suya, 5th std 
  •  I love yoga class. I like to do vajrasana and simhasana. I like opening my mouth wide in Simhasana. I love the frog story. I want to give you chocolate for taking yoga class. Jayashree - 5th std
  • In yoga class i like doing balasana, simhasana, vajrasana - because I do these asanas well..i love the turtle and the way the turtle lifted the island on its back in the story. Saranya - 4th std 
  • I like balasana - it was so nice to do it. I loved the way we colored the frog.  I want to color lion next time. will you bring that picture to color? when is your birthday? my birthday is on may 30th. Bhavya - 3rd std
Most children expressed that they liked the rhymes and songs. They enjoyed the stories and are happy that they can read so much now. Children also felt that we should visit them more often and not just once a week.

Highlights from the Program

We love BalaVidya time! It is fun play and learning

It is a story to read and understand. Learn new words and practice them

Let us touch and feel our body parts and learn their names

Children and Teacher observe keenly in Rema's class
We also share our thoughts and experiences 

A session on Art after a storytelling - The story was about a Green frog that met with his limitations and then worked hard to overcome them. Children were asked to draw and colour frogs. They came up with so many different ways of colouring – There were even frogs with all the colours of a rainbow in their pictures. They had no inhibitions in naming their frogs. Their imagination and creativity travelled in all directions.  Always ready to experiment and express in their ways.

We meditate to relax and reflect
I like the chocolates during a post meditation interview

Children were very excited to do the thumb print activity based on a story read out to them.  The shapes that emerged from the thumb prints were so spontaneous and it was a thrill for the children to see ink mark on their thumbs.

Children learning the butterfly pose
Some Art in the class

The team :)
Bala Vidya will continue to spread its wings and reach out to children.  The consistent commitment of the volunteers provides the platform of BalaVidya to children and brings out their enthusiasm.  Once that enthusiasm is opened their love and affection gushes out like a huge fountain, drenching everyone around.  That love and affection fuels the volunteers to keep coming week after week.  Sustenance and focused effort are the drivers for any initiative to succeed and along with that the love, affection and enthusiasm of the children is what propels Bala Vidya.

1 comment:

  1. Its so nice to see the efforts put in by Bala Vidya & the facilitators and when I imagine the possible change & influence these children would've got, its amazing. I'm sure it'l take them to greater heights in their years to come. Good job, may the efforts spread to more children to shape them to become good people! All the very best!


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