Aashayein: A Virtual Platform To Expand Your Horizons On SDGs

AIESEC Manipal conducted Aashayein, a fun-filled virtual event focussing on appraising and familiarising the students of Unity International with the various Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on the 1st of August, 2020. The event spanning two hours was divided into two sessions of one hour each. Packed with light exercises and interactive storytelling, the first session was fashioned to cheer up the kids of standard 2nd-4th and get their bodies moving to perk up the lockdown mundane. While the second one, tailored for the students of standard 5th-8th, was a little absorbing with stress on the importance of SDGs and quick info-bites on the pandemic situation.

The first session began with the kids expressing themselves and talking about their favourite colour and food. The volunteers of AIESEC then proceeded with numerous exercises which the kids followed along. Pranav Agarwal, a Mumbai resident and a volunteer of AIESEC coordinated the first set of exercises, which included three rounds of the noted ‘Tadasana’. Chinmay Choukse, the host of the event, mellowed out the hesitant kids and made them feel at home. The next few exercises were directed by Disha and Poorvaja who carried out some basic stretching exercises like the ‘Balasana’, the ‘Trikonasana’ and the ‘Titliasana’. The kids could no longer hold back from being a part of the ebullient workout and put up a small show of their enthusiastic vigour.

The kids were then attuned to a classic fable which was narrated by Shrushti Mehta and Sanjana Rao. It was titled ‘Who is the happiest?’ and talked about a king who tested his subject’s greed and taught them content and satisfaction, through a simple walk in his garden laden with precious fruits and flowers. This was followed by another story-telling workshop by Aarya and Shivani. The fable was about a father who intriguingly teaches anger management to his short-tempered child by making him hammer a nail on their majestic fence every time he is angry over a petty issue. The kids were all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with their ears glued up to the timeless fables.

The second session had breakout rooms with the students of standard 5th and 6th in one room while 7th and 8th in another. It began with an inviting discussion on the lockdown and how the lunch breaks are not the same anymore with schools being thoroughly missed. While talking about what’s the first thing you will do once the lockdown ends, Disha, an AIESEC volunteer said, “I want a good graduating ceremony and a closure”. Aryaveer and Sparsh, the kids from Unity International talked about their love for cricket and how they miss their favourite sportsman in action, while Anney talked about her passion for painting. After a light-hearted talk on how Covid-19 has changed their lives and what all they have learnt, the volunteers led the discussion towards the highlight of the session that is the SDGs.

Briefing the kids about SDGs the volunteers told them about the nature of the SDGs and that they were set up by the UN Development Programs to instil the idea of a long-lasting future. Supported by an appreciable example the volunteers explained, “the way our mothers leave behind some food for us so that we can have it once we are back from school, similarly we should leave behind some resources for the future generation and not use them exhaustively”. Speaking about the SDG ‘clean water and sanitization’ they told the kids how vital it is to not waste water and still keep yourself clean and healthy, especially in this COVID situation. They also enlightened the kids on responsible consumption and how the non-biodegradable plastic is havoc for the mother earth. Recalling the 3R’s (reduce, reuse, recycle) the volunteers helped the kids differentiate between biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste while also taught them to always segregate wet and dry waste.

Talking about the SDGs ‘Quality Education’ and ‘Gender Equality’, the team ensured that the kids learn to question stereotypes and asked them why does one only imagine a boy on hearing the word ‘firefighter’? They told them how only 75℅ of women in India gain higher education and left them with perfect examples of personalities like Sanjeev Kapoor and Mary Kom who have broken the stereotype.

The session ended with the kids talking about their career interests and gaining insights from the volunteers.

All in all, it was quite an overwhelming session, an ideal blend of ‘fun and learning’. The fun kept the children on board while the information-sharing made the session engaging.

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