This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Varun Shrivats. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Youthfully Played!

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By Varun Shrivats:

The world of sports is subject to frequent changes; changes to ensure that quality of play is maximized. It is only like most other fields that fall under the category of “entertainment”, like music, movies, TV shows, games, and game consoles. One day, you might walk into a store and give in to a hip new gadget, and after a year, you might regret buying it after an exasperated store assistant tells you to stop bothering him for old parts. This is often the case in most sports. One day, a player might be considered top drawer, and some other day, he might get involved in a heated discussion with his coach regarding his “recent” performances.

In most of the modern day’s sports, keeping up pace with the rest involved has become a challenge in itself. One flawed performance is all that coaches, media, and the public need to start judging a person or a team. In fact, in sports like Cricket and Football, even the coaches/managers are constantly assessed by the Board of Directors. Any dips in performances would force the coach to bring about a change in emphasis of his team’s game, which, like most things in life, is easier said than done. Such is the pressure on sportsmen these days.

It can be said with certainty that every major sport, at some point of time, has witnessed the rise of a young star who managed to capture the attention of sportspersons and the public alike. Citing a few examples here may be unnecessary, but I would like to do so anyway to emphasize my point- Sachin Tendulkar (Duh!), Diego Maradona, Rafael Nadal, to name three.

One thing that needs to be said here is, that the aforementioned stars are just three of the many who started their sports careers at a young age and excelled. There have been youngsters before them and youngsters after them, who have ascended to points of zenith in their respective careers.

The success of such people as youngsters had (and has) huge impacts on the world of sports. Regulatory bodies started realizing the vastness of the potential to be tapped out of youngsters, and thus started encouraging the introduction of youngsters in sports. The younger versions of Cricket (Under 19) or Football (Under 20) World Cups stand as testimonies to this fact.

There are many advantages of giving youngsters a chance to actively participate in sports. Youngsters have a keen hunger for success burning inside them (Yes, I know, you might have read this one plenty of times), with the aims of proving themselves and making their side proud. If common sense and practical observation have taught us anything, it is that people start losing interest in things, which one day might have been highly engrossing. This is an innate tendency in us humans. The same applies for sports, though not equally well, seeing that some people nearing their 40s play with indescribable passion, as though they were introduced yesterday. Putting that anomaly aside, the general statement which this paragraph intends to convey is that youngsters in sports, fresh as they are, are not tainted with signs of losing interest in the sport, and seldom hesitate to push their limits in order to excel. Some manage to shine, some do not, but keep in mind that most of the ones who fall under the latter category did not fail due to lack of trying.

Let us now take a glance at the Cricketing scenario in India. In 2007, the whole of our nation was disappointed with the dismal performance of the Indian Cricket team in the World Cup. Fast forward four years, and what do you know, we have won the Cup. Like many, I believe that the introduction of the IPL played a big role in our victory. It served as a hub for breeding of home-grown talent. It helped in the rise of several talented youngsters, who otherwise may not have had a chance to play at such a level. Many Indian players drew pointers from their IPL experiences at the time of the World Cup tournament, and a proper blend of experience and youth was vital in helping us win the highly coveted cup.

The rising advent of youngsters is not exclusive to Cricket. F.C. Barcelona, widely considered to be one of the best Football clubs in the world of late, is known for its extensive “La Masia” youth system. Many of their stars, like Xavi Hernandez and Lionel Messi to name a couple, are products of their youth system. Last year’s Formula One Driver’s championship was won by Sebastian Vettel. He simultaneously won the tag of the youngest F1 Champion ever. 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics saw youngsters like Abhinav Bindra and Vijender Singh do our country proud.

Now I would like to elaborate on how each of the aforementioned stars succeeded in their respective fields. Hold on, don’t click on the ‘X’ quite yet, I was only kidding. On a more serious note though, allow me to conclude by stating that this article does not intend to convey that youngsters should replace experienced stars, in sports. It merely tries to highlight the importance and benefits of nurturing young talents so that they do not go wasted.

Img: http://www.travelindia-guide.com/national_sports.php

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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