At Magic Bus, we have been working very hard on creating advocates for our cause — people who believe that leading and active life could be open many other doors. Take, Meena’s case, for instance. Meena is one of the thousands of young people we work with. At eighteen, she would have certainly have been an un-educated, poor mother, were it not for the fact that she allowed herself to be drawn into the power of an active, outdoors life. The last time I met her, she said to me, “For someone growing up in a poor urban slum, the fact that sports and activities could be used to develop serious attitudinal shifts — in the way I think about myself and what I can do to change my own situation — wasn’t even known. Today, my identity as a Magic Bus person has enabled me to exercise choice and control over my own future.”
From a state where every girl is being brought up be a homemaker, Meena is carving a niche for herself as a career woman, financially independent and college educated.
At Magic Bus, Meena is among the thousands of young people who get trained in our approach and then go on to replicate the magic of sports in the lives of the children they work with. This is why is so important for us to get support from Coca Cola India.
As is well known, Coke has been a steady proponent of active lifestyles that include sports. With us, they support a project that works across Rajahmundry, Kolkata, Ludhiana and Lucknow to promote active living among 3500 children and young people. What the project aims at is to create a chain of positive behaviours and attitudes around health and hygiene, education, nutrition, skill development and community level leadership.
“We expect that these 3500 children and their volunteer mentors will create a cascade of good choices in their own lives, which in turn will better the life situations of their families,” Sandhya Srinivasan, our State Head in charge of the Rajahmundry project, told me. But that’s not all. Using the leadership skills gained in the process, our participants frequently become change makers as well, bring much-needed services and triggering attitudinal shifts in the entire community.
This is just what has happened with 10 years old Ajeeth, who is among the children we work with. With the support he is receiving, this young boy is learning each day to do something significant with his life, with a meaningful job by the time he is ready for one. Despite the fact that his parents are unschooled, he is doing well at studies, and intends to study all the way upto Class 12, if not more. And that, for me, is the crux of active living: the possibilities it opens up that go far beyond playing.
We are very proud and privileged to have Coca Cola India share with us the journey towards discovering the power of play.
Mr. Pratik Kumar is the CEO of MAGIC BUS.