Salaam Bombay Foundation’s Ambitious 15th Student Health Assembly Goes National,Engaging 20,000 Students Virtually Across Urban Cities in India

434 of the Foundation?s Student ?Health Monitors?from Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Jaipur raise their voicefor a healthier, brighter future.

Mumbai, 4th February, 2021: On the occasion of World Cancer Day, 20,000 student beneficiaries of Salaam Bombay Foundation?s (SBF) Preventive Health Programme participated in the Foundation?s 15th Student Health Assembly. The Assembly created on the lines of the Model United Nations (MUN) in private schools, was held virtually and on a national scale for the first time. Aunique platform, the Assembly providedstudent leaders from SBF?s advocacy and leadership forums (Bal Parishadand Bal Panchayat)the opportunity todirectly ask policy makers and stakeholderscrucial questions pertaining tohealth, nutrition and mental well-being with a special focus on the ongoing pandemic. The event was attended by a panel of eminent dignitariesincludingDr. Krishna Methekar - Deputy Director, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India FSSAI, Govt. of India;  Mr. Pravin Patil - (I.P.S.) DCP, Maharashtra Police Department; Ms. SanghmitraTribhuvan - Deputy Director, Education Department,  Maharashtra;Dr.PadmajaJogewar - Joint Director, Nodal Officer, Public Health Dept. Maharashtra andMs. Manasi Gokhale - Manager, Outreach & Content, MpowerMinds.

Speaking about the event, Tshering D. Bhutia - Vice President, Projects (Preventive Health & Research), Salaam Bombay Foundation said, ?The Student Health Assembly is animperative initiative curated ?by the students for the students? from government and government-aided schools where Salaam Bombay Foundation runs its programmes. The interaction provides for a thought-provoking exchange of ideas facilitating a much-needed dialogue between student representatives and government stakeholders resulting in effective change at both policy and community level.Through such initiatives the Preventive Health Programme provides guidance to students while boosting their confidence and self-esteem, enabling them to transform into change agents for their communities. Through the programme, students have the opportunity to explore their full potential by working with lawmakers, media and communities.?

The questions asked by the ?Health Monitors? at the event were a result of their learnings from a survey conducted as part of their community outreach. ?Health Monitors? are young student ambassadors who arepart of SBF?s Project ?KHANA? - a Project on School Based Health and Nutrition. With an aim to improve the nutritional status of children from municipal schools, this programme goes beyond educating students on the importance of proper nutrition, and encourages them to become ambassadors of healthy practices within their community. These student leaders are encouraged to promote amongst their peers the importance of proper nutrition, recipes for balanced meals with affordable and easily available ingredients, the ill-effects of junk food, the role of hygiene in nutrition and the significance of physical exercises.

Additionally, the Foundation?s Preventive Health Programme has actively reached out to its student beneficiaries during the ongoing pandemic, providing them with insights on the importance of immunity boosting foods, micro-greens and kitchen gardening through online sessions.

Since 2007, SBF?s forums such as the Bal Panchayat and Bal Parishad have been providing government school students the opportunity to raise their voice and initiate action on various issues that affect their health and well-being. Through these activities, students who are also part of the Foundation?s In-School Preventive Health Programme develop a network of peer advocates and share strategies for change in their communities. Select school members of the Bal Panchayat go on to form the Bal Parishad which meets policymakers every year. The policymakers include senior government officials from various departments.

About Salaam Bombay Foundation: 

Salaam Bombay Foundation started in 2002 to work with 12 to 17 year old adolescent children growing up in Mumbai?s slums. These children live in extreme poverty and in ?at risk? environments. The municipal schools they go to do not have the resources to give them individual attention, career guidance or access to activities that stimulate the mind. Many are undernourished and face the risk of substance abuse. They come from financially challenged homes and are pressured to drop out of secondary school and seek jobs to support their families.  Given these ground realities, Salaam Bombay Foundation has harnessed the ability of child-friendly, innovative education tools to develop life skills and coping skills necessary to ensure that these adolescents develop into well rounded personalities, able to meet the challenges they face and take on leadership roles within their communities.

The Foundation keeps children in school by empowering them to make the right choices about their health, education and livelihood thereby ensuring that they can thrive with a bright future. In-school leadership and advocacy programmes equip "at-risk" adolescents with the life skills they need to lead change. The Sports, Arts and Media academies encourage them to express themselves and provide performance opportunities that build self-esteem. The skills@school programme broadens their career horizons and empowers them with vocational skills for sustainable careers. Thus Salaam Bombay initiatives increase confidence, give vulnerable adolescents the means to earn part-time and stay in school, and provide the tools to explore their full potential. 

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