Parth Sarthi is no ordinary boy. His efforts that reunited 21 children with their families won him of Pradhan Mantri Rashtriya Bal Puraskar 2020. At the tender age of 15, in 2018, he founded the NGO Raasta Foundation for the holistic development of underprivileged children and Assist Basketball Academy to train physically-challenged and underprivileged kids in the game. Earlier this month, he organized a musical program, Tarang, with the help of kids of juvenile homes.
“The inspiration for Tarang came when I read two news items. One, on Covid-19, spreading among these children, and the other on children who tried to escape from a juvenile home. I realized the mental stress children must be going through and decided to do something about it. They all helped organize the program and also participated in it.” The resident of Noida’s Sector 14 who is a Class 12 student at Sanskriti School, Chankya Puri, wants to be a social entrepreneur.
“It all began in 2018, when I volunteered to teach runaway kids at Apna Ghar, run by Salaam Balak Trust, during summer vacations. While interacting with them, I could see many of the kids were under a lot of stress. I realised that kids don’t just need academic learning, but also holistic training. They need some avenues to relieve themselves of stress.
Since I play violin, I decided to include music into their lives. And Raasta Foundaton came about,” he says. “We teach children and also organise music classes so they get positively diverted and stay away from negative influences such as drugs, smoking, etc.,” he adds. Sarthi also encourages these kids to participate in public events so they form a new vision to look forward to in life.
Besides holding music concerts, Raasta Foundation also holds career counselling sessions for the children. “These children are totally unaware of the career options, so we try to educate them.” Assist is currently training 65 differently-abled and marginalised kids at the academy. “We plan to hold a 3x3 Inter-School Basketball Tournament to promote the new 3x3 format that would be played for the first time in the Tokyo Olympics. One exhibition match was organised before the lockdown happened,” he says. Sarthi is also working towards the launch of India’s first inclusive basketball league.