On October 22, Class XI students across India will be able to engage in fun and fitness programs to support students in Zilla Parishad schools, including a high school in Billalavalasa and elementary schools in the villages of Zilla Parishad. ‘Ippalavalasa, Bhagiradhipuram, Kondalaveru, Korlam, Badam, Kunchigumadam and Siriyalapeta in Merakamudidam mandal of Vizianagaram district in Andhra Pradesh.
‘Run for a Better Future’ virtual fundraising event organized by Hyderabad-based NGO Balamitra Foundation extends support in the form of books, sports equipment, art kits, scholarships, volunteer support vidya and menstrual hygiene management. There are also plans to provide digital access to students at Heal School, Vijayawada. The five-day event is from October 22 to October 26.
The Foundation started five years ago with the goal of getting young adults to lead fundraising and volunteering activities. “The intention was to help children help their peers from disadvantaged backgrounds,” explains Chandrika Kanumuri, administrator of the Foundation. The first event, a 2019 5km race at Gachibowli Stadium in Hyderabad, was run by a student council. Funds from registration and registration fees (for 500) were used to purchase sports equipment, library books, menstrual hygiene kits.
Due to the pandemic, the event in 2020 has gone virtual with 300 participants sharing videos of their activity – running or cycling. This year too, it’s virtual with a team of seven student volunteers who spread the word and register registrations. “Our goal here is twofold: to raise funds for our cause and to encourage participants to improve their physical condition,” adds Chandrika. While participants earn electronic certificates, graduating students receive hours of community service on their certificates and the top 3 finishers in each category will also receive medals and gifts.
Running for a better future
- October 22-26
- Categories: Running 20km / Cycling 50km over 5 days
- Registration: 500 (no foreign donations)
Nandini Raju, from this year’s group’s Chirec International School, reaches out to her peers via Instagram (@balamitrafoundation). “We are seven members and have different ideas and points of view. By working together, we learn to listen to each other and make sure each member’s ideas are heard. We also talk to different types of people – sponsors, volunteers, school principals and campaign leaders and this experience teaches us how to talk to people of different age groups.
Former student council members share heartwarming stories of how this initiative has impacted their lives. In an email, Sannidhi Krovvidi, who is currently pursuing her undergraduate studies at the University of California, said, “The opportunity to volunteer and serve on the student council has taught me so much. Being able to go to Vizianagaram and interact with the girls was beyond my imagining of community service. All the experience, all the emotions and the exchanges that took place were raw and genuine. Another former member, Venkat Kandukuri, said: “The emphasis on youth-led initiatives, menstrual awareness and civic mobility has transfigured my notion of community engagement.
Balamitra in Telugu means ‘Child who is a friend’ and the attempt is to lend a helping hand, make new friends and be connected, ”concludes Chandrika.