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Engaging and providing support to children in need during the COVID-19 pandemic

Girls in India washing hands
Copyrights: Pro Sport Development (Photo)

Engaging and providing support to children in need during the COVID-19 pandemic

How Pro Sport Development is contributing in the efforts to provide COVID-19 relief to its participants and their families in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.

The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected various sections of society, especially low-income families in different parts of India. In the Eastern Indian state of Odisha, there are 1,052 reported cases of COVID-19 with 52 reported cases in Bhubaneswar (Odisha’s capital). On 24 March 2020, the central government announced a nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus. As a result, schools in Bhubaneswar were closed, including the schools that Pro Sport Development (PSD) has partnered with to implement it’s Community Sports Program (CSP), catering to children living in various slum settlements of Bhubaneswar.

PSD has been implementing the CSP in Bhubaneswar since September 2015. The CSP aids in the holistic development of children from underprivileged and marginalised backgrounds through a specially-designed multi-sports curriculum aimed at teaching soft skills, increasing their self-esteem and self-confidence, and boosting their academic learning. With the closing of PSD’s partner schools in Bhubaneswar, the programme is on hold for now. Nonetheless, PSD believes that it is our responsibility to support these school children during these uncertain and challenging times.

In April 2020, PSD started creating fitness, yoga, and fun games videos to motivate and engage its participants to stay safe, healthy and fit at home. Since the students cannot attend the school due to the lockdown, it is important for them to stay motivated and healthy at home during the pandemic. Moreover, to keep the children engaged in different activities at home, PSD has also been sharing various art and craft DIY videos with them. PSD has been reaching out to these children through mediums like WhatsApp on their parents’ devices, in order to share these video-led activities. However, it has been a challenge to do so, as not all families have smartphones or access to the internet, a limitation that PSD recognises in its endeavours. One of our participants from Bhubaneswar, Subhampari Baliarsingh, a 13-year old student of Vivekananda School of Integral Education shared her thoughts with us. She said, “I request everyone to stay home. Exercise daily to keep physically fit and mentally strong during the lockdown.”

Other than keeping children engaged during the lockdown, PSD is also taking steps to assist in relief work relating to COVID-19. PSD has collaborated with the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Foundation to provide soap dispensers and liquid soap to our partner schools to improve their sanitation systems along with providing basic hygiene kits for 800 children and their families from these schools. PSD will also replicate these COVID-19 relief efforts to support another two schools and 750 of its young participants and their families in Bhubaneswar, having launched an online fundraiser for the same.

The hygiene kits provided to the children will include face masks, soap, sanitary pads (for adolescent female participants), and pamphlets containing information on COVID-19 and necessary precautions, along with simple home fitness routines for children to engage in physical activity during the lockdown. These kits will ensure the health and well-being of these children and their families in these times of crisis. It will also ensure that they are ready to return to their schools whenever they open, since the Government of Odisha has mandated wearing of masks in public spaces and it is safe to assume that this practice will continue in the foreseeable future. Through these steps, PSD believes that it will be able to continue to make a difference in the lives of the children it works with.

 

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Wednesday, May 27, 2020 - 12:23