CHENNAI: She was a mother who left her cushy bank job to spend time with her two-year-old son. In a quest to teach values of sustainable living to her son and other young minds, Abirambika Ravivarman along with her mother Jayalakshmi Sakthivelan started Green Minds Centre (GMC) in 2014. “Sustainability was a word which was considered synonymous to environment. But it is also a part of our lifestyle and mindset and I wanted to take this idea to everyone,” shares Abirambika, former senior manager, Citi Bank.
With ‘People, Planet and Prosperity’ as their motto, the mother-daughter duo set up a centre which looked beyond the academic curriculum. “When we started out, awareness about sustainable lifestyle education was very bleak. Even today there are some parents who consider academics to be the only way to educate a child,” she continues, “But having a positive mind and understanding the importance of being mindful is very essential and that’s what we do.”
What was the most challenging part in this venture? Pat comes the reply. “The syllabus! Being an after-school programme, we were conscious that children shouldn’t stress themselves to learn sustainability,” says Abirambika.
While the syllabus was set after a lot of research work on universal laws, Abirambika says the change in behavioural pattern of children reflected on their academics as well. “Before setting a syllabus, I try it out with my son and a few other children. If their behaviour pattern changes in a positive way, we take it forward. Most children also started doing well academically after indulging in these mindfulness-based activities,” she shares. An array of activities for colouring, calmness, multiple intelligence and mind growth are part of GMC’s syllabus.
Apart from concentrating on sustainable lifestyle in children, the centre also caters to pregnant women and adults. “It’s important that women remain calm and positive during pregnancy. The way they behave during pregnancy will reflect the child’s behavioural pattern after birth,” she explains. “I never used to eat properly during my pregnancy and I see that pattern in my son too. People don’t take this seriously but this is something that should be addressed.”
Adult colouring meet ups and family-oriented programmes are other sought after and successful activities in the centre, explains Abirambika. The centre has come out with two publications for adults and children. “We have an adult colouring book and a book on mindfulness for children. There are not many such books out there easy to reach,” she says. GMC also has the recognition of entering the Guinness records in 2014 for receiving a whopping 1.23 lakh pledges in a ‘pledge-a-thon’ for sustainability taken across Tamil Nadu. “We wanted to advocate education for sustainable development and entering the Guinness Book was the push that we needed,” she shares.
Abirambika has only one dream, to take this sustainability idea to schools and make it a full-fledged pedagogy programme. “I want to start a school which has sustainable lifestyle education as its main curriculum and academics as secondary. When a child learns about this, academic success and understanding will take its own course,” she adds.
(Green Minds Centre is organising an adult colouring meet on May 1 and a workshop for children on May 2. For details, visit https://www.facebook.com/Green-Minds-Center-103685199768022)