As part of the International Award for Young People (IAYP), 9 students from the St Anne International School, Mumbai completed the Chirbatiya Trek with Indiahikes on April 26, 2023.
The IAYP is the Indian chapter of the Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award. It aims to inspire and empower youth in the age group of 14-24 years through a non-formal education framework.
IAYP has three levels — bronze, silver and gold. To qualify for the bronze level, one needs to be above 14 years of age and willing to commit six months to the activities outlined in the program. This includes taking an adventurous experiential journey.
This is where the Indiahikes trek came in.
Children pitching tents on the Chirbatiya trek. Photo by Sharwari Brahme
Writing a postcard on the summit. Photo by Sharwari Brahme.
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“The trek threw quite a few challenges at the students. The weather turned bad, we had mule trouble, yet, all students beautifully took it in their stride," Sharwari Brahme, Trek Leader and Trainer, who led this trek says.
Students pulled through the challenges and learnt crucial trekking skills like building a fire, pitching a tent, and conserving water.
Some also faced difficult emotions.
"One child who struggled to carry his backpack had his friends who carried his backpack for him. That made him realise the importance of fitness. And he has decided to work on his fitness after going back home," shares Sharwari.
As was the design of the trek, standing up to the challenges triggered fantastic transformations. The students took back lessons in confidence, resilience, and determination. They understood the importance of being present, being mindful.
"I see the difference in my students. They have become more helpful, more forthcoming in stepping up and helping their friends, and classmates. It was not so before the trek," says Prameela Satish, Head of SAIS, who had accompanied the students on the trek.
At the end of the trek, we observed 5 behavioural changes in the children. Sharwari lists them here:
- We observed students helping each other on the trail. They also were sharing water when they saw someone running out of water. Sharing in difficult times, when they were outside their comfort zone, is not easy at all. But we saw children doing that.
- We also witnessed children stepping up and carrying the backpacks of their friends who were not able to do it. This is a trait of a true team player. Carrying a backpack and trekking is not easy but doing it for a friend shows that they value relationships and want to help each other selflessly.
- The students went off the trail and collected the waste. It was evident that they understood the value of sustainable trekking and leaving the mountains leaving better than they were found. Care for the environment was the reason for them to collect waste off the trail.
- By the end of the trek, children became more independent, confident and resilient. They were becoming proficient with the trekking skills, effectively managing the daily tasks, speaking their heart out without any fear of judgment, and appreciating the natural beauty.
- Through the trek we saw the students forming strong interpersonal bonds, with their classmates and with the teachers.
- We also observed children strongly connecting with natute, the flora and fauna in the jungle.
Through such experiential programs, many schools in India are striking a balance between theoretical and practical learning.