More than 800 children aged between 3 and 14 gathered on the weekend of 24 and 25 September 2016 to take part in their final stages of the Kidz Ultimate Challenge (KUC).
The KUC is a multi-faceted holistic child development programme that began in February 2016. The culmination of this initiative, which took place at BAPS Swaminarayan mandirs in Leicester and London, included the Genius Challenge (purna mukhpath) and Skills Challenge (talent contest).
After a vibrant opening ceremony, Sadguru Pujya Ishwarcharan Swami and Satyavrat Swami offered words of encouragement to the participants.
Children prepared recitations of passages from Hindu texts which demonstrated not only a test of memory but assessed the traditional styles of reading and intonation. Many had learned far beyond the basic entry requirements. One 13-year-old boy in Leicester was able to recite 40 Vachanamruts, 160 shlokas and 42 bhajans – all in the correct style. In addition, he had prepared 180 Swamini Vatos by heart. Even the youngest category of participants (3- to 5-year-olds) performed exceptionally well.
The Skills Challenge provided an opportunity for the children to develop their talents in a variety of disciplines, including storytelling, speechmaking, essay writing, mono-acting, art, dance, singing, and instrument playing. Again, the outstanding talent displayed by the children far exceeded expectations.
Indeed, after seeing the conviction and clarity of some of the presentations, the overriding consensus among the judges, volunteers and parents was that the KUC had been extremely productive in helping the children develop key qualities, skills and the confidence to go on to excel in their studies and beyond.
Rahul Bhagvat, one of the many volunteers who had endeavoured tirelessly to train and mentor the children since February, said, “It was so rewarding to see the exceptional commitment and dedication at such a young age. The KUC has truly sown the seeds of an exciting future, by not only helping children fulfil their potential but expand it, giving every child the opportunity and confidence to grow into something more than they otherwise would have been.”
An inspired mother also shared: “I feel that we have learned along with our children. It also helped our family grow closer. And the skills and experiences from the KUC will provide tremendous benefits to my children long into the future, at various points in their lives.”