Mewat Mondays: Learning to Play, Playing to Learn

Growing up, what was your favourite school period?

Ours was Physical Education (PE). For those 45 minutes, we could escape our studies, have fun with our friends and play games such as football, volleyball, and hockey. Not bounded by the confinements of the classroom, it was the perfect chance for us to get some fresh air, stretching our limbs and getting the action that our restless young bodies yearned for.

During recess, we would run off with our friends and head straight for the playground. We remember hanging ourselves from the monkey bar, relishing the feeling of having our feet off the ground and kicking them in the air. Or the feel of the wind brushing past our face and hair each time we go up the swing, beckoning our friends to push us higher in the air.

Unfortunately, children in Mewat do not get to experience that. In most schools, sports are not part of the curriculum, due to lack of Physical Training Instructors (PTIs). Even if teachers want to conduct games or sports activities for students, the lack of training and leveled ground prevents them from doing so. Playgrounds are also either in disrepair or not available at all. To improve the situation in these schools, SRF Foundation has implemented initiatives and participated in several programs to promote sports.

In one of the schools that we went to, both swings and monkey bars were in such poor conditions

In one of the schools that we went to, both swings and monkey bars were in such poor conditions

Playgrounds: More than just Play and Fun

Apart from providing entertainment and endless hours of fun, playgrounds help to develop children’s health. Equipment such as swings, slides, see-saws, and merry-go-rounds provide children exercise and hone their agility, speed, balance and coordination. In addition, playing in groups contributes to the development of social skills; teaching children how to cooperate, control their behavior, tolerate one another, negotiate and compromise. This can be seen in instances when kids learn to take turns playing on the slide.

Recognizing its significance and contribution to children’s development, SRF Foundation recently built a playground in SP Nagli. In the near future, all the other 18 schools will also have playgrounds built.

Children playing happily together at the new playground in SP Nagli.

Children playing happily together at the new playground in SP Nagli.

Khel Khel Mein: Learning through Play

To increase students’ sports exposure, SRF Foundation sent a team of children from Mewat to participate in an inter-NGO Sports Meet held on 12th February 2011. In association with Athletic Federation of India, Khel Khel Mein was organised to provide children from various projects a platform to develop self-esteem through sports.

For four consecutive Saturdays, PTIs from The Shri Ram Schools (TSRS) went down to Mewat and trained the children for these events. All the effort paid off, as the team won 12 medals, in events such as races, long jumps and shot puts, the “Best Organization Award” and even, “Best Athlete Award” for children aged 9 to 11 years old.

Our children with their medals and certificates.

Our children with their medals and certificates.

Although the competition is over, our efforts do not end here as two PTIs from TSRS still come down to Mewat and continue teaching the children sports every Saturday.

PEC India: Sports Training Program

The lack of PTIs has been a huge barrier in implementing sports program. To overcome this, SRF Foundation conducted a PE training program known as PEC India, for 18 KidSmart Vidya Volunteers and 9 Bridge School Facilitators from 22nd to 23rd February 2011 at SP Nagli.

The program aimed to equip teachers with essential skills and expertise to use PEC cards and equipment in their schools. During the two-day program, teachers were taught how to deliver fun, safe, and inclusive PE sessions at the primary level.

At the end of the program, participants showed positive responses as the cards introduced new teaching methodologies and activities. It also provided them the necessary hands-on skills and experience that they needed to conduct the activities in their own centers. The participants could not wait to go back and pass on what they have learnt to their students.

Running as fast as they can during the relay, with the hopes of bringing victory to their team.

Running as fast as they can during the relay, with the hopes of bringing victory to their team.

How We Can Help

All of the schools which we visited have expressed their interest in sports program and equipment. SRF Foundation is doing its best to deliver this. Apart from what the Foundation is doing, the rest of us can also come together, contribute, and make a difference by bringing sports, fun and games into the lives of these children.

For instance, in villages such as Khor Basai and Tepkan, Panchayats have contributed their own money to level the land in the school, allowing children to play safely on the grounds.

The headmaster of Tepkan middle school, Mr. Mohd Ayyub has also made it his own personal goal to bring sports development to the school. Recently, he requested and successfully received 16 footballs from Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA) Haryana. During our visit to his school, his students were enjoying themselves playing games such as football, or simply passing around the ball to their friends.

We too can help by coaching sports teams or providing sports equipment.

The possibilities are endless.

To help develop sports in these schools, email info@srf-foundation.org to discuss how you can get involved.

Mewat Mondays is brought to you by our interns, Aisyah and Rafidah, who believe in working hard and playing even harder. As part of their field research, they have been spending time in some of the 19 villages, and will gladly share pictures and anecdotes from these experiences. Reach them at siti.mohd@srf.com and rafidah.razak@srf.com respectively.

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Filed under Mewat Mondays, Mewat Rural Education Programme (MREP)

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