Ramanthapur Dec. 6: The annual Young at Risk (YaR) day celebrations for the Telugu speaking states of Andhra and Telangana (in India) were held at Don Bosco Navajeevan, Ramanthapur on December 5 & 6, 2015. Children from eight Salesian centres along with staff and volunteers – totally 400 – participated in this two day event. All activities of the two days were centred on the themes 'Family is my right' and 'No bullying'. Taking the annual celebrations to a higher level, this time the hosting community planned for a day of animation followed by a day of outdoor activity rather than hosting only a sporting event.
The programme began at 09.30am with the inauguration, including a prayer dance. Rev. Fr Swarna Bernard, Vicar General of Hyderabad archdiocese was the Chief Guest and Ms Chandana, representative from 'Save the Children' organization was the Guest of Honour. Fr Sudhakar Bellamkonda as Coordinator of the YaR Commission of the Salesian Province of Hyderabad and Director of the hosting community welcomed all the children, directors, staff and volunteers from the different YaR centres – Hyderabad, Auxilium Navajeevana, Vijayawada, Vizag, Rajahmundry, Ongole, Warangal and Kurnool. He wished that the two days would be a sharing of experiences, making new friends and a wonderful growing experience for all.
After the inauguration, the children were divided into senior and juniors as per their age for two interactive sessions on the themes, 'Family' and 'No bullying'. They were animated by Mrs Sumathi, Ms Samyuktha, Fr Thomas Pallithanam and Mr Ambedkar. Another note-worthy feature of the whole event was the participation of the children from the local community at all levels: planning, organisation, coordination and active involvement. Besides the external jury for the cultural evening on the first day, there was also a 'bal adalat' (childrens' jury) with a representative from each centre. The campfire that concluded the day was an exciting experience for the children with creative games and activities.
The second day was dedicated to sports and outdoor activities and witnessed children bring life to the campus. While those involved in the official games were busy racing for the prizes, the others invented their own games and were busy – in their usual Navajeevan style. A round of surprise games for the grown-ups (staff and volunteers) drew the biggest audience! The concluding ceremony held late in the afternoon summed up the event. Specially designed trophies were given out on the basis of a surprise random survey conducted during the two days. A solemn pledge marking our commitment to end bullying was taken by all. Each participant then imprinted his or her palm-print on a banner to endorse the same.
Fr Sudhakar, as he declared close the celebrations, thanked everyone and reminded each one that it was truly a celebration of our togetherness, as a family. Earlier, a telugu devotional CD, brought out by Fr Gnana, the Principal of DBNJ, Ramanthapur was released. Besides the gifts, prizes and sumptuous meals that each member carried back home, were the fond memories of new friends and beautiful insights into growing up as members of a family without fear or threats... and of course, the promise to meet again the next year!