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Linking Young Minds Together
   Volume 3 | Issue 15 | April 17, 2011 |


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Making a Difference

Letting them Fly

Rakibul Hasan

Students are born with wings, teachers let them fly'- a message framed on the walls of Banglabazar Government Girls' High School. In a society where young girls often enjoy little freedom beyond the four walls of their homes, the girls from this age-old school in the old part of Dhaka City are being prepared to emerge as future leaders by utilising the power of sports to positively influence the lives of other young people around them. The female students of this school are being trained as young leaders under the International Inspiration Programme

Youth sports leaders organise different festivals around the year, Courtesy: British Council

supported by the British Council and the United Kingdom Sports on behalf of the UK government. The aim of the programme is to change the lives of millions of youngsters of all abilities, in schools and communities across twenty developing countries around the world, through the power of high quality and inclusive physical education, sports and play. The programme also aims to lay the foundations to deliver development and education through sports worldwide, as part of the legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympics Games.

Students of all abilities get involved during the annual festivals, Courtesy: British Council

Under the International Inspiration Programme, young students from Banglabazar Government Girls' High School as well as from nineteen other participating schools in Bangladesh received a youth leadership training, where students attended workshops on developing certain leadership skills. The training programme included wide-ranging physical education, innovative sports and different mental skills. Since the training, the youth sports leaders of Banglabazar Government Girls' High School are regularly hosting five festivals around the year. Through these festivals, games and sports are merged with cultural programmes to make young people in their school and community aware of major issues like early marriage, dowry, HIV and AIDS, hygiene, abuse and exploitation.

Sports make the students fit, healthy and happy.
Courtesy: British Council

Syeda Akhter Shiuli, the physical education teacher at Banglabazar Government Girls' High School says, “The youth leadership programme has made my girls smart and confident. With the help of the young leaders the girls at school are regularly practicing innovative games like stepstone, passing the ball as well as popular sports like cricket, football and badminton. We have been participating in different competitions and recently my girls have also won a badminton competition.” The programme aims to use sports not only for recreation but also as a tool for life skills, such as communication, negotiation or decision making. Under the programme, the young students are receiving special training in swimming to protect themselves and others from any possible danger while crossing the Buriganga River on their way to school. “The teenaged girls are some of the most vulnerable members of the society as they often become victims to stalking and other problems. However, through active participation in games and sports, a sense of empowerment is building up in them, enabling them to overcome the challenges that a girl might face in our society,” says Shaheeena Kabir, one of the teachers from Banglabazar Government Girls' High School and a trainee at the International Inspiration Programme. As International Inspiration is a collaboration of expertise in sports, development and education between the schools of the United Kingdom and twenty other participant schools from developing countries, the young leaders of Banglabazar Government Girls' High School are maintaining an active communication with their partner schools in the United Kingdom, through the internet and social networking sites like Facebook, to share their ideas and experiences.

The girls are very interested to participate in the popular forms of sports.
Courtesy: British Council
Princess Ann talking to one of the youth sports leaders from Banglabazar Govt High School during her state visit to Bangladesh.
Courtesy: British Council

“It feels very liberating to participate in sports and to know the experience of the students from other parts of the world. This way I can have new insights and can also apply that knowledge to help my community,” says Sharnali Majumdar, a Class 10 student and one of the youth sports leaders under the International Inspiration Programme. Like Sharnali, the International Inspiration Programme anticipates to transform the lives of millions of youngsters around the world so that they can rise to the challenges of the 21 century and become global personalities.

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