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Hundreds of children from across the UK came together at two awards ceremonies to present their talents. These grand finales were hosted at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Leicester on Sunday 13 January 2013 and at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir London on Saturday 26 January 2013.

In January 2012, the Bal-Balika Mandal had embarked on a year-long, multi-event Kidz Ultimate Challenge (KUC), during which more than 1,000 children aged between 3 and 14 participated in a variety of events held across the UK and in parts of Europe. These included competing in areas such as sports, public speaking, mono-acting, singing, playing musical instruments, and much more.

The ceremonies saw magnificently decorated stages replete with a glittering array of trophies and prizes. The prize-giving was combined with performances from a selection of talented children who had performed exceptionally well in the competitions. Cllr Rashmikant Joshi and Cllr Manjula Sood joined in the celebrations in Leicester. Pujya Gnaneshwar Swami, a senior sadhu of BAPS visiting from India, graced the occasion in London. Cllrs Muhammed Butt, Zaffar Van Kalwala and Krupa Sheth also attended the London celebrations.

Kirit Wadia, one of the lead coordinators, observed: “It was heart-warming to see the surprise and joy on the faces of the children as their names were announced and they rushed to receive their award, greeted with rapturous applause from the audience. The KUC has encouraged the children to enhance their talents and has inspired unknown amounts of confidence in so many of them – something that is going to be invaluable to them throughout their lives.”

Road-shows are being organised to provide an opportunity for many more children to demonstrate their talents at towns and cities across the country.

One mother, Ranjana Patel, expressed, “The KUC brought us closer together as a family. I am really proud of my children.Through the KUC they have not only strengthened their spirituality, but are also become more confident.”

Roshni, a participant, spoke of her “wonderful experiences throughout the KUC” and in particular how she will be able to “use the techniques and guidance from my mentors to help me in my studies.”

This latest project follows The Queen’s Award presented to BAPS Children’s Forum in 2009 for its outstanding voluntary services to the community and, more recently, the Gold Award from the National Resource Centre (NRC) for its “high standards of service in providing supplementary education to the community and the British Academy Schools Language Award.

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