By Kalyani Balakrishna

Its been a year since ATMA Foundation’s new venture, ATMA UYARE was started. The name fascinated me as I connected it with the movie UYARE—which conveyed that there is no limit to one’s aspirations and combined with focus, grit and single minded perseverance one can soar to the sky and beyond.

What I personally feel is that through this venture besides handholding and scaffolding the children  to fill in their academic learning gaps , they are being exposed to endless possibilities . Teachers from different places, different subjects, different styles of interaction  present a wider platform for them to explore  and grow  mentally as well as emotionally. One doesn’t know what sparks off that curiosity, that interest in a child which can reinvent his/her life.

That the idea was a huge  success was evident by  the increase in the number of institutions  and children who  have joined this year. This also builds bonds of friendship  among children across the state.

Personally it has been a  challenging exercise for me to keep the children engaged and active in a multigrade environment. I  have interacted with other teachers many of whom are doing amazing work. There was an initial hesitation on the part of the  children to open up. I cannot say that I have been able to make a great difference, but over a period of time they are open to discussing topics, relating it to their life, sharing their learning, and most of all helping me with  Malayalam  equivalents  for scientific words. Whatever said and done I have learnt a lot.  What helps the children is the non threatening, non judgemental  atmosphere and the feeling that it is alright  to make mistakes. This is an interaction that I look forward to every week. Thank you ATMA for making me a part of this venture.

Smt Kalyani Balakrishna is a renowned educator, who is greatly loved and respected by the academic community as well as by her students. After a long stint as the Principal of Paramekkavu Vidya Mandir, a reputed CBSE school, she is currently serving as Director of Academics at the same school. She has been a strong pillar of support for ATMA. She is actively involved with the Uyare Project, and also teaches science to the children.

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