We are a NGO currently operational in rural Punjab in Pathankot district on NH1A in the tiny hamlet of Nawan Pind. Engaging with children from disadvantaged communities in after school activities and English classes – through play based educational programs. As Piaget put it “play consists of responses for pure pleasure”. Here children are motivated to share their interests and learning takes place in an environment of freedom through spontaneous interaction. Everyone who walks in is encouraged to think, engage, express themselves and take some learning back home with them.
Engagement of children is done three to four times a week, after school hours through activities such as sports, arts and craft, dancing, singing, map reading, team building and problem solving games. Through these activities, we try to identify the learning levels of children instead of going with the assumed age based on their grade, which helps in understanding their core strengths and weaknesses. This engagement is with children from the village government primary school who have limited access to books, sports equipment and have no access to hobby or co curricular activities.
We also attempt to involve parents of these children as holistic development of the child can be achieved with their active participation. Through interactive sessions on health practices, parents are provided with essential information of leading a healthy life.
‘Atisa’ as the word imbibe is a Tibetan reference to the word ‘peace’ which when added with the playway method, helps children from disadvantaged communities overcome differences to create peaceful communities. We believe that by using ‘play’ children tend to learn more about themselves and their communities and become responsible for their own future.
Through the introduction of games and activities, children are encouraged to express themselves freely without any fear of repression. Life lessons like leadership skills, communication skills, team building, health practices, confidence building and responsibility are blended with activities to make learning enjoyable and purposeful. Through play children learn to take charge of their lives as having fun is an important element of the play based modules. .
We strive always to provide safe space for dialogue for participants/ children and team members alike with no fear. Whenever needed confidentiality is kept in order to gain the trust of our participants and provide that safe space. The bonds formed through these interactions we hope will grow and be internalized to instill feelings of mutual trust, respect, friendship transcending all divisions and barriers. .
Just as Atisa dedicated his life to the upliftment and spreading of peace among all beings, through this humble attempt we hope to impact lives, imprint memories and inspire peace amongst the communities we engage with.