Over 1,200 children aged between 2 and 14 participated in the 'Beginners Challenge' over April and May at more than 30 venues across the UK and parts of Europe. This was the first component in the 'Kidz Ultimate Challenge' (KUC), a year-long, multifaceted child development programme launched in February of this year.
The children, split across four age groups, had prepared for the Challenge for several weeks, learning and memorising fundamental spiritual concepts and principles from their information packs. Participants eloquently recited passages from scriptures as well as a collection of prayers in Gujarati and Sanskrit.
More than half of the children who participated achieved the top-tier mark of 80%, with almost a third of these recording a score of 95% or higher. Many judges volunteered their time to assess the children and were impressed at the young participants’ knowledge, confidence and enthusiasm. As one judge observed, “Many of the children had studied far beyond what was required for this assessment.”
Many of the centres performed exceptionally well. 80% of the children from Manchester and South East London received Gold awards, with Birmingham, Coventry, Loughborough and Preston recording a 100% turnout.
In London, around 450 children were tested by more than 40 judges in two hours. Many children from further afield in the UK and mainland Europe – such as Cornwall, Barcelona and Milan – were even tested through video conferencing, allowing every registrant to participate.
Centres also participated in local samuh pujas where children learned the correct techniques for performing their morning prayers.
For volunteers, mentors and parents, it was enthusing to see the positive change that the Beginners Challenge had inspired in the lives of children and their families. Tejas Gandhi, one of the mentors, shared, “The children have been an inspiration to us adults in their enthusiasm to learn new things and earn the rajipo of their guru Pramukh Swami Maharaj. We have so much to learn from them!”