The Kidz Ultimate Challenge (KUC) was an eight-month multi-faceted child development programme organised for children in the UK and Europe.

Since its Launch in February, more than 1,400 3- to 14-year-olds had participated in various competitions, including the Beginner’s Challenge, Sports and Mastermind Challenge, and the Skills and Genius Challenge. This also incorporated tailored training for shishus, bal-balikas and parents.

The KUC’s culmination was marked with grand award ceremonies at BAPS Swaminarayan mandirs in Leicester and London over the weekend of 19 and 20 November 2016, when hundreds of children with their parents came together to present their talents and receive their trophies and prizes.

Chief Guests at the events were Michel Laurent-Regisse, Lead Advisor at Leicester City Council, Dipak Kumar OBE, founder of the ‘Good Values Club’, Dhimant Trivedi and Purushottam J Bhaliya, Chief Executive and Deputy Chief Executive at the Bank of Baroda, Pascale Vassie, Executive Director at the National Resource Centre for Supplementary Schools, and Bernadette Holmes, Campaign Director for ‘Speak to the Future’.

The awards ceremony saw several individuals and groups being recognised for their achievements in various competitions, including essay writing, research projects, graphic design, Gujarati, instrument playing, singing, acting, storytelling, as well as recitation and reflection of scriptural verses and passages. Consistent high-achievers across all categories were especially rewarded.

The prize-giving was interspersed with several very impressive performances from the children, highlighting again the latent talent that the KUC had unleased and enhanced.

His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj sent a special video message conveying his blessings and congratulations to all the children and their parents.

Ms Pascale Vassie shared her impressions of the event, saying, “Today, to see all those children so proud of their different talents and supporting each other was wonderful. Learning that you have had 300 volunteers with you has been inspiring and it was nice to see young people really engaging with the younger generation and passing their culture on to them.”

Bernadette Holmes observed, “The value of the work that you do that has been displayed today is incalculable. That young people have the self-belief, self-confidence and desire to connect and be proud of their talents are the central messages that we want to impart to all the young children in this country.”

Rakesh Gunchala, a lead volunteer from Birmingham, added, “The KUC has been remarkable in all aspects of spiritual and personal development. Children have built on their confidence and have been transformed into confident youngsters. The KUC provides something that is rare to find elsewhere.”

A young participant from Leicester shared her experience: “The KUC has helped me to improve my Satsang knowledge and taught me to aim high and never give up. It has also helped me to prioritise my tasks.”

A boy from South East London echoed, “The KUC has given me a voice which has helped me to overcome my shyness at school. Through hard work, consistency and the grace of Pramukh Swami Maharaj and Mahant Swami Maharaj, it has helped me to be the person I am today. I can speak in front of an audience and am more interactive with others.”

Many congratulations to all the balaks-balikas and parents for their continued support and motivation, and to the volunteers for their selfless dedication in developing the new generation.

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