Mumbai, August 29th, 2023: Salaam Bombay Foundation’s (SBF) Sports Academy organised a mentoring session with Indian cricketer Ajinkya Rahane for its ‘Fitness Monitors’ adolescent students studying in municipal or government aided schools, who are trained under the Academy’s Fitness Program and handpicked for their long term interest in fitness. The goal of the event was to inspire adolescents to adopt a lifestyle of fitness while becoming change agents within their communities. As part of the session, the students had the opportunity to interact with Mr. Rahane where they learned about his journey of fitness on his way to becoming one of India’s top cricketers. SBF also organised for Mr. Rahane and the students to engage in fun fitness activities which combined aspects of cricket, fitness and motor skill development.
SBF’s 100 hour-2 year Fitness Program has been designed to help underprivileged adolescents maintain fitness levels while increasing their participation in various sports. The program also provides a platform for adolescents to explore career opportunities in fitness and other areas within the sports industry. SBF has gone one step ahead with the “Fitizens Initiative” where enthusiastic students showcasing a motivation to make an impact on their communities with a potential to pursue a career in sports and fitness are selected as ‘Fitness Monitors’. These Fitness Monitors then advocate the importance of fitness by mobilising and conducting sessions in the community while also digitally tracking each community member’s fitness levels throughout the sessions. SBF provides students tablets for the digital tracking of fitness levels where Fitness Monitors review and guide community members on their fitness levels. This also ensures that the adolescents are being updated with technological skills relevant to the sports industry.
With the hope of contributing to the Indian Government’s ‘Fit India Movement’ launched in August 2019 by Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, SBF expanded the ‘Fitizens Initiative’ from slum lanes to Ganpati Pandals, Community Gardens, MCGM Bus Depots, Old Age Homes and Corporate Offices. SBF and the adolescent Fitness Monitors work together to identify target groups and also customise fitness sessions based on age and fitness levels of the target group. Every community member enrolled is taken through a cycle of 5 fitness sessions including ‘Strengthen Your Everyday Movement’, ‘Fitness Anywhere and Anytime’, and ‘Change Your Mindset to Change Your Lifestyle’ among others.
Mr. Ajinkya Rahane said, “Salaam Bombay Foundation’s “Fitness Program” as well as the “Fitizens Initiative” is a great way to promote fitness amongst underprivileged adolescents and their communities. This unique format of appointing these adolescents as ambassadors of good health will definitely have a catalytic impact on their lives. I believe that every child studying in a municipal or government school must have access to fitness programs like the one conducted by SBF, while encouraging them to spread the spirit of good health, both for mind and body amongst their communities. I am happy to have shared my principles of fitness and inspire these bright and motivated students. They have promised to hold up the torch of good health for their communities. I look forward to mentoring more young minds at Salaam Bombay Foundation.”
Ms. Padmini Sekhsaria, Founder, Salaam Bombay Foundation said, “We are honoured to have a youth icon such as Ajinkya Rahane mentor our students and inspire them to reach for the stars. We work with underprivileged adolescents from difficult backgrounds, who have little or no access to physical activity and sports. At Salaam Bombay Foundation, we believe that the playground can be an effective tool to achieve a Healthy Body and Healthy Mind. Our vision is to bring about an attitudinal change amongst these adolescents through Sports and Fitness, motivating them towards staying in school and completing their education. His presence on the ground will help galvanise this section of the society, where lack of resources invariably leads to disinterest in health and fitness. We hope Ajinkya will continue to conduct more such inspiring sessions for our students. We commend his efforts and his commitment towards creating a Fit India for future generations.”
Till date, the Salaam Bombay Sports Academy has trained 2,200 students (1,050 or approximately 48% are girls) through the “Fitness Program” out of which 100 have been selected as ‘Fitness Monitors’. In the last one year, more than 4,400 community members across India have been trained by our adolescent ‘Fitness Monitors’ through the “Fitizens Program”.
About Salaam Bombay Foundation:
A CHILD IN SCHOOL HAS A FUTURE
Salaam Bombay Foundation started in 2002 to work with 12- to 17-year-old adolescent children growing up in Mumbai’s slums. These children live in extreme poverty and in “at risk” environments. The municipal schools they go to do not have the resources to give them individual attention, career guidance or access to activities that stimulate the mind. Many are undernourished and face the risk of substance abuse. They come from financially challenged homes and are pressured to drop out of secondary school and seek jobs to support their families. Given these ground realities, Salaam Bombay Foundation has harnessed the ability of child-friendly, innovative education tools to develop life skills and coping skills necessary to ensure that these adolescents develop into well rounded personalities, able to meet the challenges they face and take on leadership roles within their communities.
The Foundation keeps children in school by empowering them to make the right choices about their health, education and livelihood thereby ensuring that they can thrive with a bright future. In-school leadership and advocacy programmes equip “at-risk” adolescents with the life skills they need to lead change. The Sports, Arts and Media academies encourage them to express themselves and provide performance opportunities that build self-esteem. The skills@school programme broadens their career horizons and empowers them with vocational skills for sustainable careers. Through its DreamLab initiative, SBF, has provided for a continuum of skills training and market-based internships to youngsters in the age group of 14 and 18 years. Launched in July 2019, DreamLab, has been able to furnish stipend-based internships to 163 skills@school alumni across nine job sectors. DreamLab also creates a talent pool of grassroot entrepreneurial adolescents. Salaam Bombay initiatives increase confidence, give vulnerable adolescents the means to earn part-time and stay in school, and provide the tools to explore their full potential.