The nationwide search to handpick school students who have made meaningful contributions to communities kicked off in July 2011 as the 2012 ‘Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards’ programme invited individual and group applications from students of Classes 6-12 across the country.
The basic criterion was that applicants must have been engaged in volunteer community service activity that occurred at least partly during the 12 months prior to the application period. The top two individual winners receive medallions, cash prizes and a trip to Washington, DC in May 2012. This prestigious awards programme instituted by DLF Pramerica Life Insurance Co, is an extension of the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, the largest youth recognition programme in the US based exclusively on volunteer service.
The winning group entry receives medallions and a cash prize to be shared among the team.
This year, out of the 3000+ applications received from Indian schools, 15 individual and three group entries made it to the final round, which is due in the first week of April.
Aafrin M R, Sudarshan R, Shadhika K, Sanjanaa V and Poobesh Gowtham S R
Class 8, The Ashok Leyland School, Hosur
To highlight the role blackboards play in education, ‘Mission Shiksha’, a mass blackboard painting initiative was launched for government-run elementary schools.
The week-long project reached out to 5,305 students in six schools in and around the town of Hosur in Tamil Nadu.
The five-member group painted the blackboards in these schools and generated awareness among students and teachers about the importance of board maintenance in schools.
Mobilising funds from peers and parents, ‘Mission Shiksha’ drew volunteers from the Ashok Leyland School in changing the lives of several students.
M S Manikandan, M Parthiban, S Nandhagopal, K Gayathri, Tharun Kumar S
Class 8, Sevalaya’s Mahakavi Bharathiyar HS School, Tiruvallur
Alarmed by the increased use of harmful pesticides and fertilisers in farming, Manikandan and his friends decided to propagate organic farming in the locality. The enthusiastic group supported spread awareness about the ill effects of chemical-based farming among local farmers around their school.
Gayathri Nilakantan, Class 9, APL Global School, Chennai
Gayathri has been working with the Tamil Nadu Kidney Research Foundation since she was a six-year-old. Today she sells paintings and cupcakes to raise money for underprivileged patients who cannot afford kidney transplantations or dialysis. Her contributions have helped the foundation raise over `2.5 lakh over a period of eight years, helping about 1200 patients with transplants, medication and fistula surgery expenses.
Taha Fathima Khan, Class 9, APL Global School, Chennai
How does a Facebook page created by a 15-year-old girl help a lost child? Taha Fathima Khan had the answer to this question — selfless love and the desire to make it possible. On a hot summer evening in May 2011, Taha created a page on Facebook called ‘Search for Thamana’, to find Thamana, a 5-year-old girl who went missing on the Marina Beach in Chennai on May 11. “Though marks are not the most important thing in life, the reason I started the ‘Search for Thamana’ page on Facebook was because I could not go around distributing flyers then. My IGCSE exams were going on at that point,” says Taha. Within a week, Thamana’s photo and details spread across television networks, newspapers and radio channels, with everyone doing their bit to find Thamana.
On May 19, Thamana was found and returned to her parents. Today, this page, with 570 likes, helps locate thousands of such Thamanas, who go missing every day.