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One Up Library Brings Children Closer To Books

Bringing children back to books, the One Up way

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One Up Library in Vasant Vihar. IANS
One Up Library in Vasant Vihar promoting reading habits among children. IANS

With walls painted pearl white and bright mats covering the floor, it looks like a fancy showroom in an upmarket neighbourhood. But don’t get mistaken — it’s a library. And that too for children.

The One Up library in Vasant Vihar is like an oasis in the digital desert with 1-14 years old as members. It’s a rarity to find a neighbourhood library as today’s children are mostly engaged in online passions, having little time for reading books.

Dalbir Kaur, founder of One Up, believes in the old school way of making children aware. Started in Amritsar in 2011 as the Golden City’s first modern library, One Up travelled to Delhi in 2017.

Dalbir believes the 21st-century children need spaces beyond schools that specifically focus on critical reading and thinking; promoting curiosity, collaboration & conversations, and community-building.

“The conventional libraries could not stand the effect of time, especially when everything is available online. But it’s important that children visit libraries to explore literature, develop their reading tastes,” she told IANS.

Dalbir said to draw teenagers towards books and promote less usage of technology, a revolutionary change was required in the way libraries looked and felt. She brought the concept of active reading, where children are guided by trained helpers who themselves read a lot.

“It’s important to have attractive interiors with an active librarian. The librarian or the attendants must be active and knowledgeable about the books and should be avid readers themselves,” Dalbir said.

Bringing children back to books
Motivating children to read books and cultivating reading habits amongst children in One Up library. Pixabay

Since the readers are children, Dalbir herself goes through every book that is to be added to the library to remove all the chances of inappropriate content. Her team also organises weekly activities, like ‘read-out-loud’, ‘draw what you read’, interaction with authors and quizzes after a reader finishes his/her book. All of this is conducted on the first floor of the building, which is now full of drawings and charts created by readers as part of their activity.

The initiative has gained popularity as the library now has over 200 children as members and the number is rising every day. Some members even come from Noida and Gurugram to read books — just for an hour or two.

The positive changes have also begun to flow as Dalbir has been approached by several educational institutions to curate their libraries and train their teachers. By now she has helped over 20 schools to curate their libraries and train librarians.

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Dalbir does not charge anything from a school for curating a library. She holds workshops for teachers and librarians, advice on steps to innovate and initiating non-readers.

She has now launched an award, which will attract nationwide entries, for excellence in best practices in a nurturing learning environment. Entries could be sent till September 5. (IANS)

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Exposure To High Levels of Air Pollution May Lead To Changes Children’s Brain Structure

Previous studies of traffic-related air pollution suggest that it contributes to neurodegenerative diseases and neurodevelopmental disorders

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Air Pollution
The researchers found that children with higher levels of air pollution exposure at birth had reductions at age 12 in gray matter volume and cortical thickness as compared to children with lower levels of exposure. Pixabay

Exposure to high levels of traffic-related air pollution at age 1 may lead to structural changes in the brain at the age of 12 which can influence the development of various physical and mental processes, warns a study.

The researchers found that children with higher levels of air pollution exposure at birth had reductions at age 12 in gray matter volume and cortical thickness as compared to children with lower levels of exposure. Gray matter includes regions of the brain involved in motor control as well as sensory perception, such as seeing and hearing. Cortical thickness reflects the outer gray matter depth.

The study, published online in the journal PLOS One, found that specific regions in the frontal and parietal lobes and the cerebellum were affected with decreases on the order of three to four per cent. “The results of this study, though exploratory, suggest that where you live and the air you breathe can affect how your brain develops,” said lead author of the study Travis Beckwith, PhD, a research fellow at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in the US.

“While the percentage of loss is far less than what might be seen in a degenerative disease state, this loss may be enough to influence the development of various physical and mental processes,” Beckwith said. For the study, the researchers used magnetic resonance imaging to obtain anatomical brain images from 147 kids.

These children are a subset of the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study (CCAAPS), which recruited volunteers prior to the age of six months to examine early childhood exposure to traffic-related air pollution and health outcomes.

Pollution
Exposure to high levels of traffic-related air pollution at age 1 may lead to structural changes in the brain at the age of 12 which can influence the development of various physical and mental processes, warns a study. Pixabay

The volunteers in the CCAAPS had either high or low levels of pollution exposure during their first year of life. The researchers estimated exposure using an air sampling network of 27 sites in the Cincinnati area, and 24/7 sampling was conducted simultaneously at four or five sites over different seasons.

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Participating children and their caregivers completed clinic visits at ages 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 and 12. Previous studies of traffic-related air pollution suggest that it contributes to neurodegenerative diseases and neurodevelopmental disorders. (IANS)