Over 1000 students participate in civic awareness fest

It was an action-packed and noisy morning as the children were told it should be! Inspirations 2010 – a civic fest and exhibition marking the launch of the eleventh year of CMCA (Children’s Movement for Civic Awareness) as well as the launch of the programme for the academic year 2010-11 was held at the St Joseph’s Indian High School grounds on Vittal Mallya Road on Friday, August 6th.

Cricketer Robin Uthappa, ambassador of CMCA, at Inspirations 2010. Pic courtesy: CMCA

The CMCA was started in 2000 as a joint initiative of the Public Affairs Centre and Swabhimana (both Bangalore-based organisations) with the premise that children are powerful messengers of change. It was believed that nurturing active citizenship amongst children was a sure way of ensuring a vibrant and participatory democracy. Today, CMCA is an autonomous trust, and has spread its work across five cities (Bangalore, Mumbai, Hosur, Mysore and Hubli/Dharwad) through 217 schools and 300 clubs. The head office is in Koramangala, Bangalore.

CMCA works to promote active citizenship among children through the formation of civic clubs in schools. A civic club is a group of students in each school, who join CMCA. A CMCA volunteer also called a civic tutor, is assigned to the club and interacts with the civic club on a weekly basis. Through various interactive sessions, children are sensitised to democratic and civic issues that concern them as citizens. They then spread this awareness through campaigns and acts of active citizenship.

At Inspirations 2010, more than 1500 eighth standard students from across 45 schools in the city participated. Director-General and Inspector-General of Police, Karnataka Ajai Kumar Singh, inaugurated the programme.  He shared the experience of his own home to show them how important he felt it was for them as young citizens to understand and practice democracy. He said all family decisions at home were taken at the family meetings, duly recorded by his younger son in a special book, so that there was no going back on any decision taken! He told the children they should not be deterred by obstacles in their path, but should treat it as challenges to keep moving ahead. He also commented that though it might be a matter of debate, he strongly felt that children were not being given their due place in a democracy as young citizens.

Environmentalist Dr Yellappa Reddy and DG-IGP Ajai Kumar Singh were present at the event. Pic courtesy: CMCA

The children were reminded of one of the basic principles of CMCA – the Ripple Effect. That change begins with ‘me’ (the child), moving then to family, neighbourhood, school and society at large.

They even simulated this through the Mexican wave and holding hands to mark the beginning of the event, which was truly fascinating and infectious!

Dr A N Yellappa Reddy, environmentalist and Member of Lok Adalat was also present at the event along with Aroon Raman (CMCA trustee and Promoter and Managing Director of Raman Fibre Science) and Fr Saldanha of St Joseph’s Indian High School – all of whom addressed the gathering.

The event also saw the launch of another civic-friendly initiative from CMCA – the Car/Bike Trash Bags that can be attached to carrier hook/gears of motor bikes. In the past, CMCA has launched such civic friendly initiatives including the Civic Sensible Guide and the Civic Litter Bin for school vans. These initiatives aim at offering low-cost options for generating civic awareness.

Various stalls were put up at the event to educate students about various civic-friendly initiatives. Pic courtesy: CMCA

Stalls on rainwater harvesting, home composting, apiculture (commercial bee cultivation to produce honey), Makkala Sahaya Vani (helpline for children) as well as stalls about the various principles and initiatives of CMCA dotted the grounds at the event. Children from each school were accompanied by the respective volunteer (teachers and parents) who helped them understand the various issues addressed through the stalls. The volunteers were no less enthusiastic and committed than the children and said they would certainly  initiate such processes in their homes and schools so that they actually practice what they preach to the children!

Some of the schools that participated included St Charles High School, Inventure Academy, Sacred Hearts Girls High School, BM English School, St Josephs Indian High School, Sudarshan Vidya Mandir and some government schools.

To know more or volunteer with CMCA, contact them at
#346, 3rd Cross, 8th ‘A’ Main,
4th Block, Koramangala,
Bangalore – 560 034
Tel: +91 80 25538584;
Email: indiacmca[at]gmail[dot]com, cmcablr[at]gmail[dot]com

Cricketer Robin Uthappa, ambassador of CMCA, was warmly welcomed by the children. He helped kick off the final programme of the day – the human chain around Kanteerava Stadium to build awareness on the right to free and compulsory education and the ill-effects of child labour, through compelling and informative placards.

All in all, one came away truly inspired by the power of children.

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Vinita shares tips and experiences about all things related to growing an organic garden.