Bal Senas: Children as Change Agents
Aatapi initiated its engagement with marginalised children through non formal education centres in three villages. Accessible, appropriate and inclusive education for children and child participation emerged as imminent unfulfilled needs.
Aatapi chose to focus on holistic development of children (physical, emotional and educational) through the creation of Bal Senas. Aatapi encourages the participation of children from all sections of society; it makes special efforts to ensure that marginalised children, girls and differently-abled children get equal opportunities for participation.
The Bal Sena is a channel to facilitate the expression of children’s representative voice in all matters affecting the protection of their rights within their families, schools and local communities. It is a forum to acquaint them about public services, institutions, government policies and programmes and judicial procedures.
Aatapi aims to build a cadre of child dynamic leadership to contribute meaningfully towards the comprehensive development of their community. Children in the Bal Senas will be groomed to identify and assess issues of quality in education, mid-day meals, child malnutrition, pre-primary education in Anganwadis and migration of families and interruptions in education. Sensitising them to consider the long-term impact of their actions on the community and the environment is a critical component of Bal Sena life skills
Currently 450 children in the age group of 8 to 14 years are covered through the programme operational in 5 villages of Jambusar block
15 Bal Saathis i.e. volunteers from Women’s Federation – Ujaas – have been trained to mentor and support and the children’s groups
“Earlier people in the village did not know my name. Today I am known as Madam and my house is referred to as ‘Madam’s house’ by the whole village. This respect has grown from my role as a Bal Saathi with Aatapi,