5 Organizations Empowering Children through the Power of Play – Railway Children India

5 Organizations Empowering Children through the Power of Play

Illustration – Caroline Attia

Play time, whether a sweating it out on a game of soccer or spending endless hours doing up a doll house, is when a child experiments, implements, learns, grows and develops day-by-day what goes on to become his/her identity, belief and value system.

The renowned educator, Maria Montessori, famously proclaimed, “Play is the work of the child.” Play unlocks imagination, fosters creativity, and cultivates joy—all fundamentals of a happy and healthy childhood. Deriving inspiration from the vital role of play in a child’s life are five organizations that are turning playgrounds into vibrant learning hubs, using games for social development, and eventually sculpting brighter futures of children hailing from vulnerable communities through the power of play.

Venture with us as we learn how these champions turn laughter into lifelong lessons.

1. Yuwa India

In 2009, Franz Gastler was visiting Jharkhand where a few observations stood out to him strikingly. Boys played but girls toiled at home, boys enjoyed a bevy of benefits and privileges, but made little of those, girls receive a pittance in name of social investment, but astound people with their achievements.

These observations, coupled with the hard-hitting status of women and girls in rural Jharkhand, motivated Gastler to initiate Yuwa as a scholarship fund for high-achieving village students in government schools. However, it was a 12-year-old girl’s persistence to learn football that transformed Yuwa’s model into a sport-centric, learning platform.

Gastler then launched an football programme in the village, which drew more and more girls. He witnessed football becoming a binding force among the girls. Before football, girls were individuals. Now they are a team. If one girl drops out of school, her teammates work together to bring her back.”

With the support of Rose Thompson, Gastler started a premier school to give girls the tools they need to become empowered citizens, discover their own identity, and prepare for admission to universities in India and abroad.

Yuwa has received several accolades including the Laureus Sport for Good award for its football programme. The greatest honor for the organization, however, is when girls like Seema graduate from the Yuwa School and go on to carve bright futures for themselves by securing admissions in Ivy League Schools like Harvard.

2. Khelo Rugby

Khelo Rugby is a programme run by the Jungle Crows Foundation in Kolkata. In deprived communities, where access to education and a better life are considered unattainable, Khelo Rugby uses rugby to introduce a wealth of life skills to the communities’ youth. Committed to improving the lives of children, Khelo Rugby begins with the simple act of taking a rugby ball into an underserved community. Regularly held, fun rugby sessions builds trust among the children, community and the organization, which then develop into structured chachas or discussions to learn about their lives and ambitions. After developing an understanding with the children, the sessions then explore education for children and employment for the youth as means of empowering them.

Over the years, Khelo Rugby has received several recognitions for the impact it has made on the lives of hundreds of children—being appointed as Asia’s only ‘Spirit of Rugby’ partner is one of them.

3. Mukka Maar

As per the World Economic Forum, India has ranked at 135 out of 146 countries in the Global Gender Gap Index 2022. These startling statistics are reflected on-ground where girls and boys experience lives growing up differently, with boys often experience greater freedom, and girls routinely facing extensive limitations on their ability to move freely. This inability and oppression leads girls to face various forms of violence in their lifetime.

Working on the premise that each girl has a unique strength to fight and navigate conflicting situations of life is Mukka Maar. Founded by Ishita Sharma, Mukka Maar is a non-profit organization that partners with government bodies to provide self-defense training to adolescent girls.

Recognizing the role of the body of a girl in determining their self-perception, Mukka Maar offers a  3 year in-school program to adolescents girls, harnessing the power of their enhanced perceptions to empower and enable them.

4. Oscar Foundation

The Oscar Foundation functions with sole vision of creating a world where all children and youth have an equal opportunity to succeed. This Mumbai-based organization fulfills the vision using the power of football and a network of Young Leaders to inculcate life skills and provide education access to children from underprivileged communities in India.

Through its Football, Education and Young Leader programmes, Oscar Foundation has empowered 14,000 children and youth in low-income communities in India since 2010.

5. Khel Khel Mein Foundation

Started in 2013 as a Teach for India Fellow-led initiative, Khel Khel Mein Foundation focuses on introducing the role of sports in the lives of children from vulnerable communities. The origins of the foundation, however, began with launching football events for hundreds of children across multiple schools in the country.

Founded on the core principles of Play, Prosper and Perform, Khel Khel Mein Foundation is presently based in Delhi, engaging with the public education system, having so far transformed the lives of over 10000 children.

[vc_row content_width="grid" css=".vc_custom_1542855328409{border-top-width: 1px !important;padding-top: 50px !important;padding-bottom: 30px !important;border-top-color: #f4f4f4 !important;border-top-style: solid !important;}"][vc_column][vc_column_text] Rescued from child labour as trafficker is caught [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row content_width="grid"][vc_column][vc_column_text] [caption id="attachment_18027" align="alignleft" width="636"] Group of boys together smiling[/caption] RCI outreach workers were suspicious when they saw four boys huddled together and looking confused at Darbhanga...

[vc_row content_width="grid" css=".vc_custom_1542855328409{border-top-width: 1px !important;padding-top: 50px !important;padding-bottom: 30px !important;border-top-color: #f4f4f4 !important;border-top-style: solid !important;}"][vc_column][vc_column_text] “We thought we would never see our son again” [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row content_width="grid"][vc_column][vc_column_text]Arun was just 14 years old when he got lost while he was playing outside his home in Udaipur, Rajasthan. In his confusion he...

[vc_row content_width="grid" css=".vc_custom_1542855328409{border-top-width: 1px !important;padding-top: 50px !important;padding-bottom: 30px !important;border-top-color: #f4f4f4 !important;border-top-style: solid !important;}"][vc_column][vc_column_text] Reunited with his family after leaving mother [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row content_width="grid"][vc_column][vc_column_text]16-year-old Raqib was found by our outreach team at Delhi Sarai Rohilla Railway Station in a desolate state. He looked visibly nervous and unhappy and at...

[vc_row content_width="grid" css=".vc_custom_1542855328409{border-top-width: 1px !important;padding-top: 50px !important;padding-bottom: 30px !important;border-top-color: #f4f4f4 !important;border-top-style: solid !important;}"][vc_column][vc_column_text] Forced to work in terrible conditions [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row content_width="grid"][vc_column][vc_column_text]When outreach workers saw four 16-year-old boys at Villupuram Railway Station in Tamil Nadu they knew something was wrong. The children looked frightened and when the team...

[vc_row content_width="grid" css=".vc_custom_1542855328409{border-top-width: 1px !important;padding-top: 50px !important;padding-bottom: 30px !important;border-top-color: #f4f4f4 !important;border-top-style: solid !important;}"][vc_column][vc_column_text] Getting Vital Mental Health Support for Raji [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row content_width="grid"][vc_column][vc_column_text] 17-year-old Raji was spotted by an official from the Railway Protection Force (RPF) wandering around the platform at Arakonnam railway station. She was clearly upset, anxious...

Donation Refund Policy FORM NO. MGT-7 Terms & Conditions Security & Privacy Data Protection Policy Registration Certificate

Railway Children India is a Non-Profit organisation, registered under section 8 of The Companies Act, 2013 with registration number U85100DL2013NPL260371.