This blog post was co-written by Santosh Bidari, Founder and CEO of Peace for People, and Ashani Ratnayake, Senior Communications and Marketing Specialist at Global Fund for Children.
Peace for People is part of GFC’s Partnership to Educate All Kids (PEAK) initiative which, supported by the LEGO Foundation, works with community-based organizations across Latin America, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa to help children who have experienced pandemic-related education disruptions.
The joy, fulfillment, and opportunity that education brings are unparalleled. Yet for millions of children around the world, accessing quality education is a continuous struggle. In Nepal, many children and youth from rural communities leave school in the middle of the academic year because their parents can no longer afford even basic educational materials. Out of every 100 children enrolled in grade 1 at schools in Nepal, 67 drop out before reaching grade 12.
The COVID-19 pandemic further aggravated the situation, preventing children from going to school for months on end and reducing their interest in resuming their education. According to some experts, the pandemic has derailed the education of millions of South Asian children and youth, harming their cognitive development. “COVID-19 has negatively impacted children’s mental health, and we are facing issues in getting them back to school,” said Santosh Bidari, Founder and CEO of GFC partner Peace for People.
Peace for People (P4P) was founded with the mission of ensuring that every child in Nepal receives a quality education. Since 2009, the organization has built two schools, assisted more than 2,000 children with educational materials, and provided scholarships to more than 500 students. Supported by the PEAK initiative, P4P is working toward changing the conventional teaching/learning approach in Nepal through innovative teaching methodologies such as storytelling, music, and sports and through a focus on wellbeing.
A recent step toward children’s wellness was the launch of a mindfulness, meditation, and yoga practice for schoolchildren. P4P hosted its first yoga and meditation workshop in February of this year, with more than 300 students and 30 teachers in attendance. The workshop incorporated beginner-level yoga poses, an om chanting session, and meditation to keep the children – aged 10 and above – engaged and interested.
“We wanted to convey that age should not be a limiting factor in practicing physical exercise or meditation,” said Santosh.”
With anxiety over returning to school, the need to catch up on studies, and their families’ socio-economic struggles, many kids from rural communities in Nepal are under great mental pressure. Through these yoga workshops, P4P aims to help children reduce stress and anxiety, as well as improve focus and concentration in school.
The organization seeks to enhance both the physical health and the emotional wellbeing of young people, helping them to manage stress and build resilience in their daily lives by equipping them with wellness tools and resources.
The students’ response to the initial mindfulness workshop was very positive, and they seemed eager to learn more about yoga and meditation.
P4P is now embedding these workshops into its student mentorship programs. By training student mentors to lead the workshops, the organization can empower students to become leaders in their communities, promoting mental wellness and emotional intelligence among their peers.
Through this welcome focus on children’s wellbeing, P4P is supporting the next generation of leaders in Nepal and promoting a culture of peace and wellness in schools and communities.
Header photo: Children participating in a yoga activity. © P4P
Global Fund for Children (GFC) UK Trust, created in 2006, is a UK registered charity (UK charity number 1119544). We work to generate vital income, create new fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness of the invaluable work of GFC’s grassroots grantees. Our aim is to extend the reach of GFC in the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond.
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