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Disney India’s ‘Friends For Change’ recognises stewards of change in Delhi-NCR

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NEW DELHI: ‘Friends for Change’, an innovative interschool volunteering program, initiated by Disney India in April 2014, witnessed its culmination today amidst much fanfare in the capital city. The event, held at the PHD Chambers of Commerce and Industry had students, teachers and principals from the nine participating schools, government officials, NGOs working in the conservation space and representatives from other schools in attendance. National Award Winning actress Vidya Balan, who was the Guest of Honour for the event, encouraged and congratulated the participating schools.

At the culmination ceremony, all schools showcased their work tracing their journey of transformation in the adopted parks. The students captured their experiences on how they went about planning the activities, understood native species, and undertook soil testing and plantation drives within the gardens. They put up “street plays” to promote awareness and garnered support from the local authorities and communities.

“Conservation is one of the key pillars of our Citizenship initiatives globally as well as in India. Drawing inspiration from the global initiative, we envisaged the ‘Friends for Change’ program for India, centred around the key issue of depleting urban greenery. We believe that today’s children are tomorrow’s future and as part of the programme, we involved them to be the champions of change. The participation and enthusiasm of students, teachers and schools, coupled with the support and encouragement received from local authorities and the community at large, has been phenomenal and motivates us to grow this initiative in the coming years,” said Disney India  managing director Siddharth Roy Kapur.

Post the schools completing their work in December 2014, an eminent jury panel comprising of technical experts, representatives from Disney India and CMS,  visited all the parks and based on the evaluation parameters of infrastructure development, water source utilization, plantation, stakeholder involvement, sustainability and innovation, chose the winners.  Amity International School, Pushp Vihar was announced as the winner of ‘Friends for Change 2014-2015', for bringing about an astounding change in Sector IV park in Pushp Vihar. Bal Bharati Public School, Brij Vihar, Ghaziabad was announced as the runners-up, for transforming the Tikona Park in Ghaziabad. There was also a Jury Special Mention winner - Delhi Public School Ghaziabad, Meerut Road for adopting Shaheed Smarak Park, a heritage site and modifying it.

“I strongly believe that parks are an integral part of any child’s formative growing years. As a child I have been fortunate to have easy access to parks, which have I believe have made a huge difference in my life. Since children are stewards of change, I think the idea of inculcating in them a sense of responsibility towards the environment through a participative process is bound to be more effective. While on the one hand, Disney’s Friends for Change is a unique initiative to instill qualities of compassion, creativity & conservation amongst kids, it is also a great platform for fostering team work, collaboration and understanding amongst them,” said Balan, who graced the culmination event and felicitated the winning school.

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