The 9thAnnual Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards (SOCA) hosted by DHFL Pramerica Life Insurance Co. Ltd. felicitated 31 School students for their extraordinary efforts in the area of community service at a grand ceremony held at Kingdom of Dreams in Gurugram. These finalists were shortlisted from over 3,500 applications received in a nationwide search for the country’s top student volunteers. Programme Ambassador, Saina Nehwal, Olympic Medalist, and Former World No.1 Badminton Player, was the chief guest at the event.
The Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards is a school-level recognition programme for volunteer community service. It is an extension of the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, the largest youth recognition programme in the United States. India is the 8th country outside of the United States to conduct this Awards programme. Other countries are Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Ireland, China, Brazil, and Poland. Over the last 9 years, more than 40,000 students have applied for these awards.
Addressing the finalists at the awards ceremony, Mr. Anoop Pabby, MD & CEO, DHFL Pramerica Life Insurance Co. Ltd. said, “Globally, leadership development through volunteer community service projects is the central idea behind the Spirit of Community Awards (SOCA). It is a recognition for the young volunteers who have made a difference in society through their path-breaking community work. This year in India, we witnessed the brightest young minds from the best of schools in India present their projects in the fields of agriculture, healthcare, education, artificial intelligence, technology, water conservation, women hygiene, clean energy, LGBT issues, and social entrepreneurship. These passionate students went beyond their means, to make the world around them a better place and create change that matters.”
The top honors in the Individual Category went to Chaitanya Venkateswaran, a class XI student of Tagore International School, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi for her project ‘Drishti’ that enabled visually impaired students in inclusive classrooms to reach their full potential. Krrish Chawla, a class XI student of Modern School Vasant Vihar, New Delhi received the gold medal for his initiative ‘Breathify’, a low-cost environment friendly, an easy to maintain air-purifier with a dual objective of giving back to nature and society. The product, he developed is 90% plastic free and has been made from recycled materials.
These winners were presented with Gold medallions, Certificates of Excellence, a cash prize of Rs. 50,000 each and a return trip to Washington, D.C. where they will represent India in the felicitation ceremonies for Spirit of Community Award winners from all participating countries.
Speaking at the awards ceremony, Programme Ambassador, Saina Nehwal, Olympic Medalist, and Former World No.1 Badminton Player said, “I am extremely proud to be a part of the ‘Spirit of Community Awards’ for the third consecutive year. I truly believe that children are our country’s future and they should be allowed to unleash their true potential and freedom to execute their ideas so that they are able to contribute towards building a stronger and developed India. I would like to congratulate all the participants and wish them a brighter and promising life ahead.”
In the group category, Shivam Singh and Group of class VIII of UMS Khairbani School in Jharkand were felicitated for spreading literacy among the mothers of their village. These students started an enrolment drive in their school in April 2018 and during their home visits, they realised that the mothers of these kids were illiterate which posed problems for their kids in adjusting to the learning requirements. So, Shivam along with his team members started ‘Mother’s Literacy’ Campaign where they identified illiterate mothers in the village and started to teach them basics of Hindi. The focus was on providing basic tutoring to 20 mothers in the village.
14 other well deserving finalists in the Individual Category and two more in the Group Category received Certificates of Achievement and Silver medallions.
The prestigious awards programme introduced in 2010 is the India chapter of the Spirit of Community Awards, the largest youth recognition programme in the United States based exclusively on volunteer service.
The two national winners were selected by an eminent jury panel comprising Ms. Bidisha Pillai, Chief Executive Officer, Save The Children India; Mr Leon Prop, Head of Country Cluster Support Team for India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan & the Maldives, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies; Mr Mathew Cherian, Chief Executive Officer, HelpAge India ;Prof. Neera Agnimitra, Professor & Head, Department of Social Work, University of Delhi and Ms. Richa Anirudh, TV journalist and anchor of the popular talk show Zindagi with Richa on YouTube.
The national winners will travel to Washington, D.C. in end April to be a part of the gala award ceremony held at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. They would also be taken on a tour of the capital’s historic monuments and landmarks and enjoy a festive dinner cruise on the Potomac River. Moreover, there will be plenty of opportunities for these students to share their experiences and ideas with volunteers from other participating countries.