Oakridger Nikhil Arimilli, a grade 12 student from Oakridge International School, who took it upon himself to create opportunities in places of lost hopes.
He identified an Anganwadi near his hometown, which was in a deplorable condition and then decided to transform it, so that kids can have a memorable and enriching learning experience. He pooled in resources from all corners to help procure raw materials and over a course of several months, tranformed the 400 Sq Ft area into a modern looking pre-school.
At Oakridge International Schools, MYP (Middle Year Program) students have a unique learning aspect called the 'Personal Project', where students are to involve themselves in projects that are not only bound to their academics but also with the betterment of society. Utilizing this platform for change, Nikhil set out to understand more about education in India.
"It started off with me researching for pre-schools in India and I happened to be in my hometown, Tanaku, West Godavari where I visited many Anganwadis. I came across one of them which is in a deplorable condition with 40 kids seated in a cramped-up room, no learning facilities or study materials to engage with, and the place was also void of basic resources. I then decided to help them out in whatever way I can," explained Nikhil.
Nikhil approached a couple of localities of the area to get more information and begin the process of deploying his plans to upgrade the Anganwadi. After taking the billing for development, Nikhil began raising funds for sponsorships towards the development and sustainability of the Anganwadi. He approached many corporate companies and pitched the idea using a well-planned PPT explaining where the funds would be utilized, following which he managed to raise Rs 8 Lakhs. He later took help from an architect from the same village for procuring raw materials from warehouses, construction, and painting.
The Anganwadi's construction was only completed until the slab-stage with only bricks put up. After Nikhil took it up, he transformed the area into a more engaging place by adding furniture, toys, various learning resources, TVs, and play areas.
"As I was doing this for a good cause, the vendors supplying the raw materials gave me a discounted fare and it kept me motivated that a lot of people do care, but it's all about the initiation," he added.
With a dedicated play area, Nikhil sourced in multiple play structures like slides, swings, etc. He even added in more well-maintained toilets. To enhance enriching learning, he procured a lot of interactive books that help students learn more.
Within the 400 Sq Ft room, Nikhil included wall murals, to enhance the environment for the students to feel more welcoming and engaging.
"I drew a little inspiration from how Oakridge has its pre-school sections built as well as some of the pre-schools in Singapore," he further added.
A team of UNICEF recently came in to inspect the Anganwadi centre and impressed with the work put in, the Anganwadi is now authorized as one of the best Anganwadis centers. Nikhil has also been felicitated with a letter of appreciation from UNICEF for his marvelous input for the betterment of society. Nikhil plans on pursuing Public Policies as his major, which falls in-line with his unbiased interest in the advancement of underprivileged kids.
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