Published: 26th November 2020
Here’s how this Bengaluru-based foundation’s gamified workbooks are making govt school children ‘sporty’
The objectives of fitness and exercise are achieved through this programme titled Race Around India launched by Sportz Village Foundation, which is based out of Bengaluru. Check it out and be amazed
Digital learning, virtual classrooms and online learning — we are honestly grateful for their existence, especially during the pandemic. But upon mentioning these words, who else thinks of all those children who don't have access to the internet, any devices or no scope for a digital connection to the world either? We don't know about others, but Sportz Village Foundation certainly did spare more than a few thoughts for them. And their programme Race Around India takes the cake when it comes to thoughtfully-curated offline experiences for children. To take us through this exciting programme that doesn't need a screen, we spoke to Parminder Gill, Co-founder and Head, Sportz Village Foundation and discovered how novel it indeed is. And it is only a foundation like theirs, dedicated to making more and more kids play, that could have come up with it!
To be honest, Race Around India, designed for students from government and low-income schools, has been a part of Bengaluru-based Sportz Village Foundation for some time now, but when the pandemic descended they decided that they had to switch gears and bring this programme to the main track. With much ado, Parminder jumps right in and tells us all about it. Noticing the growing disproportionate digital divide made more evident by COIVD, the foundation decided on piloting Race Around India in August 2020 in Chennai and Bengaluru. "Though broadcast mediums like TV and radio were being used for educational purposes, they offer passive consumption. We wanted to offer a rich learning experience through our offline programme," asserts the entrepreneur who is a Visiting Faculty at Azim Premji University.
So the funda is this. Every child is asked to collect a travel-themed gamified workbook from their schools. After this, all activities are carried out remotely. Students are divided into different teams so that they can 'race' through different cities mentioned in the workbook. Confused? Allow me to explain. Each page of the ten-page-workbook belongs to a city. And by reading it, a child would learn what the city is famous for, its cuisine, culture and so on. Along with this information is a table of ten activities, out of which, the child is required to do four. Needless to say, all these simple activities are related to sports and fitness. They could be as simple as walking while balancing a book over your head for a stipulated period of time. Or even cycling, sprinting or more. Kids can earn points for their team after every activity they finish and these points are updated by their team lead, who needs to have a phone so that he can do this virtually. This way, the children contend against teams. Everything is gamified!
Parminder Gill | (Pic: Sportz Village Foundation)
"When you give tasks like ‘do ten push-ups’, anyone would get bored. But kids play because it is fun and it engages them with others. We wanted to make sure both these elements are incorporated via our activities. Moreover, our activities are so simple, they don't even require acute facilitation," shares Parminder, who pursued his MS from Arizona State University. No wonder they have seen 100 per cent engagement via these activities!
On to bigger things
Via this successful pilot, the foundation has engaged 185 children belonging to 14 public schools in Chennai and 195 children belonging to eight public schools in Bengaluru. Next, they want to go bigger! Much bigger than their three-month-long pilot. They want to rope in children from more and more cities and up the ante when it comes to competition. The team that wins at the district level competes at the state level, then on to the nationals. "From day one, our mission has been to get 100 million kids to play and we are set on achieving it via our programmes," points out Parminder.
But what is sports for Sportz Village Foundation, which was founded three years back but the idea has been with them for over 15 years. "It doesn't have a monolithic, single theme. We want to achieve women empowerment, instill leadership skills and so much more via what we play," attests the sports enthusiast. Another point he makes is, "Our country doesn't have a culture of appreciating sports. A parent would rather have a child do Math than play sports. But just like the fact that you don't become an engineer if you do Math, one doesn't become an athlete if they like sports. Sports can be pursued for various reasons. We want to integrate sports into the very fabric of this country," he says passionately.
For more on them, check out sportzvillage.com