Amravati, Apr 17: Two 10-year-old kids from a children’s home in Amravati were selected to represent the state in the 35th National Yoga Championship, second time in a row, to be held in Tamil Nadu next week.
The two kids, Love Pawar and Sujay Meshram were staying in state-run children’s home in the district for the last few years. While Sujay was orphaned after his mother burnt herself and his father passed away, Love’s father sent him to the home after he remarried following his mother’s death.
“The boys from the home, including the two, go to a local school. The general perception about them at the school is that since they live in the hostel and do not have a family, they are indisciplined and neglect studies,” says Jyotsana Mehekare, a member of Resource Cell for Juvenile Justice, a project which works with children.
“There were no long-term activities at the home. We wanted children to have more interaction with others outside the home so that they are perceived differently. We learnt from the kids that they were interested in sports and yoga, so we requested a yoga teacher to teach them for a few hours every day after school,” added Mehekare.
Pradip Mugal, a trained yoga professional, began working with the children in August 2015. “Of the 40 children we began training; 20-25 took keen interest. We enrolled them for a district-level competition as well. Seven got selected and performed in Amravati last year while two were taken to Tamil Nadu,” says Mugal.
Last year, after taking permission from the Child Welfare Committee, the superintendent of the home travelled with the children to Tamil Nadu in a train, reaching on the day of the competition. “The children had never stepped out of the district. They were overwhelmed at having to perform in front of so many people. This time they are better prepared,” says Mehekare.
The competition, which will be held from April 20 to 23, will see participants from across the country. Having been trained in asanas in three categories — front bending, back bending and balancing — Mugal hopes that a win will make state authorities take note of the need to encourage such activities in special care homes.
“This is the first time that I have seen children from custodial care institutions getting a chance at a national competition. They need more than just food, education and shelter,” he says.