By Jaideep Bhatia
Reproduced from Times Now
“So I decided to start a campaign to raise funds for other kids like me – but kids who do not have my privileges,” says Ayaan Jaiswal Singh (16), a Class 10 student of The British School and an avid tennis player. Ayaan’s fundraising campaign on Ketto would help underprivileged children learn the life skills necessary to cope with the drastic changes brought about by COVID-19. And they would do so through the very medium that has served Ayaan so well: tennis.
Like it has been for all children, the pandemic has been a challenge for Ayaan. “Overnight, all my normal activities came to a halt,” he says. But one aspect of his pre-COVID life came to his aid: his devotion to tennis. His training in the sport helped him draw on skills such as focus, adaptability, and self-management to deal with the new realities — online classes, home confinement, social distancing. The ability to play tennis, even at the recreational level, requires mental, physical, tactical and technical skills. Ayaan’s mental fitness and capacity to navigate unforeseen circumstances enabled him to think differently. “While everyone was focussed on COVID-19, I realised that there would soon be a post-COVID world that one needs to be ready for, and this would be a world where the life skills that helped me could prove useful to others like me.”
Ayaan decided to support an initiative called EduTennis, which imparts life skills to students in government and low-income schools using the game of tennis. As they follow a curriculum developed by tennis experts, players and coaches, students learn key life skills such as problem-solving, creative thinking, lateral thinking, communication and interpersonal skills, empathy, assertiveness, and resilience. The curriculum, over time, would enhance the employability and confidence levels of the students, equipping them to face life’s various challenges. An Amba Dalmia Foundation Trust initiative, EduTennis focuses on enabling children for the future of work. Ayaan sees his initiative as one way in which the post-COVID world can be made better, stronger, and more resilient to crises. That’s when Ayaan started thinking in earnest about other kids. “We pick up communication, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills from our parents and mentors. When we start our adult lives, these are the skills that help us do well,” he says. “But underprivileged children who are first-generation learners have no way to pick up these life skills.” Hence the fundraiser on Ketto – to help poor children learn these skills through the medium of tennis.