It's a kiddie challenge

Oct 07, 2012, 07:32 IST | Nivedita Dargalkar

Sunil Joshi teaches kids to navigate adventure games at Vidya Niketan School at Dombivli to challenge their fear on a daily basis

Challenge your fear to get rid of it,” instructs 52 year-old mountaineer, Sunil Joshi to a batch of 20 enthusiastic kids from Vidya Niketan school at Dombivli, who adjust their harnesses to scale a 25 ft long rock wall during their physical
training period.

Vidya Niketan has introduced adventure games as part of its school curriculum to ensure the overall personality development of its students. Vivek Pandit, founder president, says, “We wanted to initiate an activity in school that would channel the students’ excess energy, boost their confidence and instil team spirit in them. We thought adventure sports were an excellent choice for achieving this.”

Sunil Joshi teaches children at Dombivli’s Vidya Niketan school. Pics/ Anita Anand

“People indulge in adventure sports while on vacations or outdoors, so we thought it would be a great idea to introduce adventure games in school during physical training classes,” adds Pandit. Pandit, an avid mountaineer himself, who had earlier been on treks with Joshi to the Sahyadris, approached him on how he could go about implementing his idea.

Joshi who had attended a challenge course conference in the US in 2007, advised Pandit that this could be done by building adventure game stations at the school. Challenge course is a concept wherein a person is systematically taught to fight fear through the use of adventure elements. The school erected 12 adventure games such as Burma Bridge, balance beam, tire travel, parallel ropes, horizontal ladder, raider’s bridge and a rock-climbing wall in their campus, which together cost them around Rs four lakh.

Joshi, who has been a mountaineer for 30 years, explains, “A challenge course teaches you to deal with fear by challenging it. It’s like taking a bull by its horns. One way of conducting the challenge course is by playing adventure games.”

“While playing adventure games, a person does not compete with anyone but himself. While challenging yourself, you understand yourself better both physically and mentally. If you are at a height of 25 ft, your body tends to act differently and you take the right decision,” he elaborates. After erecting the games, Joshi took a few sessions with the kids and has also trained the schoolteachers so that they can later train and guide the students.

Forty two year-old Sujeeta Amin, a mathematics teacher with the school, who underwent training for adventure games under Joshi, says, “I never thought I would play adventure games. But the exercise has definitely made me more confident.

” Thirteen year-old Yukta Chavan, a class 8 student at the school, says, “I was very scared of heights earlier. However, training at adventure games like Burma Bridge and rock climbing has helped me fight my fear and has instilled confidence in me.”

Aparna Oak, 40, who is a special educator with the school and helps dyslexic kids with their studies, says, “Adventure activities have worked wonders for dyslexic students at the school. Energy balancing is something that these special kids need to grasp in order to perform their day-to-day activities.”

“The attitude you develop while playing adventure games extends to other areas of your life as well. While playing adventure games, an instructor is always there to guide you but the final decision has to be taken by the participants. Likewise, children realise that their parents and teachers are always there to guide them but ultimately it is they who have to take the right decisions in life and move ahead,” concludes Joshi. 

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