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- Pioneers Awards
Politicians from across the political divide, big business and Sewa Day celebrated record levels of youth participation at the second Sewa Pioneers Awards at House of Commons yesterday (26 March 2014). Hosted by BBC London 94.9 presenters Sunny and Shay, the awards recognised the participation of 75,000 volunteers from the UK and 25 other countries on the international day of ‘selfless service’ Sewa Day 2013 (7 October). In attendance at the House of Commons were; MPs Bob Blackman, Mike Freer, Barry Gardiner, Steve Pound, Virendra Sharma; peers, affiliated organisations and celebrities including music producer Rishi Rich.
Prime Minister David Cameron presented an award to Karen Giles, Headteacher, and Ms Heaton from Barham Primary School. The school in Wembley has supported Sewa Day for the past three years. This year 900 volunteers at the school took part in projects across the week of Sewa Day.
The awards honour schools and voluntary organisations who, empowered by the ethos of Sewa Day, make a valuable contribution to help improve the lives of members within their community through organising inspiring community projects, either by relieving poverty, protecting the environment or by bringing a little joy.
Sewa Day 2013 was a record-breaking year with 250 projects globally and participation of young people at its highest level in the initiative’s five year history. Sewa Day engaged and empowered people of all ages to volunteer. Schools pupils from all around the world and university students acted to make a positive difference to their community.
Arup Ganguly, chairman of Sewa Day said: “Now in its fifth year, the aim of Sewa Day is to encourage people to offer their time to the community they live in. As important as fundraising is, we believe that carrying out ‘Sewa’ is an important tool to improve the society we live in.
“The awards are a great opportunity for us to honour true community pioneers: the inspiring groups and individuals who have worked hard to make a real difference in their community. I’m delighted that so many young people have embraced the key principles of our initiative; to relieve hardship and poverty, to bring a little joy and to help the environment.”
A recent study by think-tank Demos highlighted the attraction of social action to young people, over the traditional method of voting at the ballot box. Against a tough economic backdrop and increasing gaps between sections of society, the report identified the fact that young people find volunteering and social action the most important agents for positive change in their local communities. ‘Highly active and motivated citizens’ was the term Demos used to describe young people in their report.
“Sewa Day is an evolving charity project that grows bigger and bigger every year. With organisations like UNESCO, Guardian Teacher Network and Learning Possibilities, on board, our aim is to get even more young people involved this year for Sewa Day 2014”, commented Arup Ganguly.
The winners in the schools category: Kindergarten Starters, Dubai; Barham Primary School, Wembley; GEMS World Academy, Dubai; Our Own English School, Al Ain and Westminster School, Dubai
The winners in the voluntary organisations: Exemplaris, Southall; Om Group, Luton; National Hindu Students Forum, Manchester; National Hindu Students Forum, UK and URI International, Uganda.