Amit Nagar is a village of about 350 households and population of around 1200 people in the Ballarpur block of Chandrapur district in Maharashtra. There are around 200 children in the age group 3-14 years in Amit Nagar.
The village is 7 km away from the nearest town. People here live in brick houses, cottages or shacks made from leaves and twigs. Residents have been classified as Scheduled Castes and Tribes, Other Backward Classes and Nomadic Tribes. Approximately, 25 per cent of the population lives below poverty line. A lot of the residents work as daily-wage labourers in a paper factory nearby.
The village has a Marathi-medium primary and secondary school that caters to children up to Std 10. For higher studies, children have to travel to the district-level school some distance away.
There is a primary healthcare centre (a free healthcare centre by the government) just 1 km away, and an Auxiliary Nurse Midwife (ANM) visits the village once a week for free health check-ups. The neaerest school and college is about a km away, at a place called Bamni.
The biggest problem faced by the community is the shortage of toilets. Only 30 per cent of the inhabitants have access to toilets. The rest have to go into nearby fields to defecate. As Magic Bus works in the area of health and hygiene awareness, this was one of the main reasons Magic Bus chose to set up a programme here.
With permission from the village Sarpanch, Magic Bus conducted a demo session where people from the community were invited to participate so they could understand how the programme works. Sport for Development (S4D) sessions in Padasgaon started in February 2011 with 52 children – 30 girls and 22 boys.
10-years-old Aniket Ankush Madnape lives with his parents and a younger sister in Amit Nagar. His parents work as agricultural labourers on a farm near their house.
A student of Std 4 in the nearby Zila Parishad Prathimik School, Aniket was good in studies and regularly attended school. However, any activity apart from studies did not excite him as the thought of failure scared him and prevented him from participating in any school event.
In June 2012, Aniket joined Magic Bus sessions. He attended them regularly and in no time he had learnt all the songs by heart and had mastered the games.
He seemed particularly interested in leadership-oriented games like relay race and football matches. Every time he would be made the captain of his team, the team would emerge the winner. This boosted his confidence and helped him remove many of his inhibitions. He was gradually encouraged to allow for others on the team to excel as well, extending his own view of leadership to own other people's success as well.
Today, he is known as an active leader of the children's group at Amit Nagar and an all-rounder. Hi parents cannot contain their joy looking at the new, confident Aniket. “All he wanted was a platform to hone his leadership skills and the Magic Bus sessions gave him just that” said his father.
Aniket, in the meanwhile, has bigger plans. "I want to grow up to become a sports teacher." he says.
Magic Bus has encouraged parents in the community to meet every few months to discuss the development of their children. Topics that the community is unfamiliar with, such as sanitation and the Right to Education, are also discussed at the meetings.
There have also been awareness rallies to educate the community about issues related to health and education, towards building an ecosystem that supports children's rights to education, health and equity.
Magic Bus sports for development sessions are held on Tuesdays every week, between 8.00 and 10.00 am.
These are divided in three parts:
(Photographs from Magic Bus areas of operation are for representational purposes only.)