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BACK-A-THON: Pushing back illiteracy

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By Srishti Jaswal

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People across 23 cities in India walked backwards to spread awareness, and to empower, aid and protect the vulnerable children living in shelter homes in an event called ‘Back- A- Thon’ on Sunday, September 13. The event, which was more of a social gathering than a sporting affair, was hosted nationally by a non-profit organization, Make a Difference (MAD).

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People participated in this atypical marathon by walking backwards in a uniform fashion. The event was held with the agenda of connecting the society to its children by sensitizing the community about the harsh conditions they faced in shelter homes.

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Shelter homes across the country face multiple challenges ranging from financial crunches and staff quality to lack of emotional support for children. Along with these, the stigmatization of the vulnerability of children and shelter homes causes additional stress to this already precarious situation. Even the budget for child related schemes in the union budget 2015-2016 has dropped by a massive 29 per cent. It is with the aim of raising awareness about these issues, that MAD held ‘Back-A-Thon’ across 23 cities in India.

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MAD tries to promote the importance of literacy for individuals, community and society. Literacy is a term that is understood by all without realizing that it is a complex, dynamic and lifelong intellectual process of gaining knowledge and interpreting it. Children living in shelter homes need support and care to help them in this world.

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All over India, nearly 11,892 people across the nation turned up for the event and walked backwards. Coimbatore had maximum participation of 1,500 people, Delhi and Vizag both had 800 and above participants, Chandigarh had 700 and Mumbai had 489 participants walking backwards for the cause.

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“Seven hundred is a huge number. It was so over whelming to see such a splendid response of the people in the wee hours of the morning. This is just self-explanatory to say that the society is all out to bring in the change. It wants to push the evils backwards. We just need to aware the community about it. Events like these help us do better. People are ready to Make a Difference”, says Rimjhim Bathla, PR fellow at Make a Difference, Chandigarh.

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On being asked why people were walking backwards, Shaurya, a student of St Jones Chandigarh, replied, “We are pushing illiteracy backwards.”

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‘Back-A-Thon’ attracted active participation from all sections of society; one could see students, working class, elderly people and even people from slums and shelter homes.

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‘Back-A-Thon’ was able to create an impact in the minds of thousands of people throughout the nation.

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The number of people who turned up for ‘Back-a Thon’ in each city:

  • COIMBATORE : 1500
  • TRIVANDRUM : 647
  • KOLKATA : 423
  • MYSORE : 500
  • VIJAYAWADA : 650
  • BHOPAL : 452
  • LUCKNOW 330
  • AHEMDABAD : 300
  • VELLORE : 350+
  • PUNE : 370+
  • DEHRADUN: 576
  • DELHI: 800+
  • COCHIN: 200+
  • VIZAG: 800+
  • MUMBAI: 489
  • BANGALORE: 780+
  • GUNTUR: 500+
  • KOLKATA : 370
  • GWALIOR : 900+
  • CHENNAI : 250+
  • COCHIN : 200+
  • HYDRABAD : 500+
  • CHANDIGARH : 700

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Researchers: Video Games can Help Children Evaluate, Express and Manage Emotions

Emotional intelligence can be better explained when there are emotions involved from both sides

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Video games, Children, Emotions
Video games may improve the expression of emotions, but awareness and coping strategies can't be solely understood by games. PIxabay

While it’s commonly believed that video games are harmful for children, researchers have found that it can help them evaluate, express and manage emotions when used as part of an emotional intelligence training programme.

“Video games may improve the expression of emotions, but awareness and coping strategies can’t be solely understood by games. Emotional intelligence can be better explained when there are emotions involved from both sides,” Manish Jain, Consultant at BLK Super Speciality Hospital, Delhi, told IANS.

According to the study published in the Games for Health Journal, researchers from the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Italy developed an emotional intelligence training programme that integrated video games as experience-based learning tools.

The researchers created EmotivaMente, a video game, to enhance emotional intelligence among adolescents, perhaps the group that could benefit the most. They analysed 121 adolescents who participated in eight sessions.

Video games, Children, Emotions
While it’s commonly believed that video games are harmful for children, researchers have found that it can help them evaluate. Pixabay

“Games for health have been designed to address an increasing variety of issues. A relatively new health issue is emotional intelligence, which has implications for various health problems, including coping with stress,” said Tom Baranowski, Professor at the Baylor College of Medicine in the US.

The preliminary evaluation indicated that video games enhanced the students’ evaluation and expression of emotions.

But some experts believe outdoor activities should be given more importance to develop emotional intelligence, which includes awareness of emotions, managing emotions effectively and maintaining relationships, in children.

“In the modern day where interaction is increasingly becoming online and more time is spent indoors, the right way to build emotional intelligence is people-to-people interactions and connecting, spending quality time with peers and family, learning through experiences and feedback,” Samir Parikh, Consultant Psychiatrist and Director at Fortis Mental Health Programme in Delhi, told IANS.

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“Video games are not the most prudent way to enhance emotional skills. Young people should have a well-balanced life with adequate outdoor activities and investment of time and energy in building relationships by working on communication and person-to-person connect,” Parikh said.

Sagar Lavania, Head of Department, Psychiatry and Mental Health, Nayati Medicity, Mathura, believes “human and one-on-one interactions are ideal ways to increase emotional intelligence, especially among adolescents, and can never be substituted by alternative methods”.

“However, if newer techniques are coming up, it needs to be thoroughly researched and supervised, keeping in mind the vulnerability of teenagers,” he remarked. (IANS)