Eggs-cited to run! An innovative approach to get children fit and focused
A headmaster at a rural school in East Singhbhum district, Jharkhand, gives away eggs as prizes for children who will run six kilometres every day for a week.
Pankaja Srinivasan 9 Nov 2023 8:27 AM GMT
Niranjan Majhi cannot decide what he loves more. Running or enjoying the anda fry (fried egg)! The class seven student runs regularly in his school and has recently won a rich haul of seven eggs as a prize for running seven consecutive days.
The idea to organise a seven-day running event at the school for the students was the brainchild of the acting-headmaster Arbind Kumar Tiwary of the Utkarmit Madhya Vidyalaya in Tangrain village, East Singhbum, Potka block in Jharkhand.
“Between 1 November and 7 November, 71 students from classes four to eight signed up to run six kilometres everyday,” Tiwary told Gaon Connection. He called it the Anda Challenge.
At the end of the challenge, the participants were all given seven eggs each, one for each day they ran. “The idea is to get them to eat an egg a day to fulfil their protein requirement,” Tiwary said.
Students were set the task of running six kilometres a day. They had to start from the gates of their school, run three kilometres to the neighbouring village of Chakri, touch the government school gates there and then run back.
“I think keeping fit is essential to build bright futures. And the students of my school are in any case a very active lot. They play a lot, run around and I thought getting them to run in a structured way will go a long way to building their character and confidence,” he said.
So, the rules for the event was that they had to run seven consecutive days; they had to run in groups of at least three and not alone; if they felt tired, they could walk; but on no account would any excuses be accepted. “So no saying, ‘it was raining’, or ‘I woke up late’ or anything like that,” Tiwary laughed.
Several of the students have shown a natural ability that Tiwary wants to hone and nurture. Pushpa Majhi, a 13-year-old student is one of them. “I took part in the running challenge. I began at 6 am every morning and ran six kilometres in under an hour,” she said.
Pushpa said she has a younger sister whom she encourages to run as well. “She is seven years old, but I tell her how to run well. I ask her to be careful and not try and run too fast,” Pushpa said seriously.
Rakesh Bhagat, Niranjan and Sumitra Munda also ran every single day for seven days, and won seven eggs each for their effort. Rakesh said he enjoyed nothing more than running, playing football and singing and was hoping to become a professional singer.
Sumitra, a shy 14-year-old, simply said she enjoyed the experience of running, but could not quite explain why!
Meanwhile, in between the seven day challenge at their school, Pushpa, Niranjan, Sumitra and Rakesh were part of the 41 runners from their school who participated in a run at Jamshedpur on November 5.
Twenty one girls and 20 boys, between the ages of 12 and 14 from the school, ran five kilometres in the 8th edition of Tata Steel Jamshedpur Runathon 2023.
On 4 November, they boarded the Badampahad Tata Passenger train from Sidhirsai station and travelled about 50 kms to Tatanagar Junction. They were accompanied by headmaster Tiwary.
Running as part of a 5,700-strong crowd at Jamshedpur, Tiwary hoped, would give his students a sense of discipline, excitement and drive.
“The students ran the 5K event that started at the JRD Sports Complex in Jamshedpur and wound its way around the city. The organisers had generously waived off the registration fee and it was an amazing experience for me as well as the children,” Tiwary said.
“It was amazing running with so many grown ups, so different from running with people of my own age,” Niranjan exclaimed.
The other happy outcome of the outing to Jamshedpur, Tiwary said, was one of the athletics coaches who watched Pushpa running told him she was a natural. “He told me that she should be trained and encouraged to run more,” Tiwary said with pride.
The headmaster hoped this experience would give more traction to the running event he had organised in his own school, back in Tangrain.
“I have promised the students that if they keep up their running for three months, I will buy them all a pair of shoes each,” Tiwary said. “They deserve so much more, but I have spent money on this from my personal income and at the moment I am unable to do more,” he said. But he hoped people would step forward to sponsor this activity in the school.
There are 258 students in the school that has classes from kindergarten to class eight. There are six teachers including Tiwary himself.
The students are children of daily wage labourers. Most of them belong to the Santhal or the Bhumij tribal communities and from OBC.
The school that was set up in the 1950s has already made a mark in the way it has made learning inclusive, exciting and meaningful for its students. Tiwary proudly shared how it is the first government middle school in Jharkhand to have Scouts and Guides.
Sports get a lot of attention at the school and students are encouraged to participate. And, the runathon at Jamshedpur and the seven-day running challenge in Tangrain are to give children something to revel in and build upon, besides their daily egg.