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10–year old Abhishek Eshwar, from St George School, New Delhi dreams of eradicating Polio by 2001. To turn this into reality, he’s been going around the slums in his vicinity for the last six to seven months to tell people what polio is all about. He diligently listed the names of children below five who needed inoculation and gave this information to the local health authorities. For Abhishek who got his inspiration from his 28–year–old aunt who suffers from polio, his commitment to his cause far precedes his years. He is also the millennium dreamer from Delhi and will represent India at a global summit at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, May 8–12. He and another winner will be Indian representatives amongst others from over 100 countries.

The program has been organized by MacDonald’s and Disney who teamed up with UNESCO one of the largest recognition programs for young people aged 8–15. The event which will be attended by celebrities and media personalities from all over the world will also feature an interactive symposium– “Kids inspiring kids for a better tomorrow”.

Ritwitwika Bhattacharya is a 13–year–old who has been training underprivileged children in Bharatnatyam for the past three years. She herself has been learning the dance form for the past eight years. A student of the Springdales School, Delhi, Ritwitwika dearly wishes that poverty be removed from the country. “My students cannot support their bodies while dancing for more than 15 minutes. They are so weak, because sometimes they do not even get two meals a day”.

11–year–old Diksha Dhingra of St Georges School has undertaken a “Blackboard revolution”. This student of St George’s School has been teaching children from neighboring slums and initial opposition has given way to approval as others have joined in her endeavor. Anita Bhasin hasn’t been as lucky yet. Her campaign to protect the rights of the girl child has been met with indifference and opposition in neighboring slums. Yet she remains convinced that she will be able to spread her message across one day.

All these kids have a dedication far beyond their years. In themselves they give hope for a better future. All these kids were felicitated in Delhi last week for their community work. These kids were selected on the basis of creativity, inspirational value and impact of the contribution on the community and beyond. Millennium dreams in their own right, each of these children seem to know the old adage, “In dreams begin realities”. In their case, it is responsibilities too.

Want to adopt a granny?
Why not? This just goes to show the concern kids feel for the elders in society. Last week Help Age India presented a cheque to the students of the Springdales school, Mumbai for the Adopt–a–Gran program. Now, these school kids have adopted 35 grannies and have taken upon themselves the responsibility of providing financial and moral help to them. A laudable effort especially when it is the National Year of the Elderly.

In fact, this Help Age program links the older, needy people with sponsoring families, individuals, schools and even corporates. The kids themselves are involved in providing help in the form of food, clothing, medical care and shelter. Teachers too, will guide their young students to be patient listeners to the needs of the elderly. Sashi Kanwar, principal, Springdales has been the guiding factor in sensitizing the school’s students to the needs of the elderly in the state. According to Help Age statistics there are 70 million aged people in the country 40 per cent of which live below the poverty line. Addressing the needs of the elderly therefore, becomes essential.