Prema Shankar has been running a summer camp for the underprivileged children in the city for the past six years.
“The camp brings together children from the underprivileged and affluent background. The inclusiveness should start right from childhood. They have no inkling about economic status or are aware of various occupations,” Prema, an English trainer at Ramakrishna Mission and St Louis Deaf School, said. She has experience working with Aid India, an educational NGO, before starting this venture. She draws support from her core team who helps her with putting things together. The camp had a tough time to sustain in the initial days with few sponsors. “My family members and close friends helped me from the beginning,” she said. In one of her official trips to Bihar, she realised that a child will be a good teacher to another kid. “It made more impact than you or me teaching a kid,” she said. The camp runs for free to children from less privileged families, she says, “Parents of a few children come forward to sponsor midday snacks and food items for children. They voluntarily come forward and pitch in to make us realise that we are moving in the right direction.” Children at the camp are encouraged to learn as many hobbies as they can to hone their talent. “I believe arts and crafts is a booming profession and certainly students with an unimpressive academic record can turn to it as a lucrative career prospect. We teach them life skills which are essential. A kid should know to take criticism in his or her stride. Similarly, he or she should be assertive to stand for what he or she believes is right. We touch upon various subjects, including communication,” Prema said.