POSTED May 5, 2022
How a teen is helping children realize their rights
Meet Chandrasekar, and find out how he’s making change for the better in his community
By Siju Mathew, monitoring, evaluation, learning and knowledge sharing officer, India
When you think of a community leader making an impact, you might picture an adult who’s won respect after years of work. But don’t let age fool you. Chandrasekar is just 16, and he’s already commanding attention in his village in India for helping children realize their rights.
As a leader of a child-friendly accountability club promoted through Children Believe, Chandrasekar has embraced its mandate to educate young people about their rights to be a voice for change.
“All children and youth should get equal opportunities for pursuing school education and college,” says the aspiring police officer, who’s already learning, sharing and promoting child rights.
Through participation in the club he’s learned about a child’s rights to live, develop and expect protection, as well as the right to create positive change. He’s studied India’s Prohibition of Child Marriage Act, Right to Education Act, Child Labour Elimination Act and more.
And, Chandrasekar is ready to protect the rights of his peers. In many cases, he already has.
As part of his training to lead the club, the eager student visited a government social-welfare department and learned about services delivered through Anganwadi centres (government-supported childcare).
Then, he courageously challenged the status quo.
Chandrasekar prepared a statement and posted handwritten signs with ideas about how to improve the quality and timing of meals.
This drew the attention of government officials, and as a result the quality of meals being served at the centre he visited (among others) has improved to meet government standards. The community — especially new and expectant mothers — appreciated Chandrasekar for looking out for the best interests of their children.
There are many examples of how Chandrasekar is helping children realize their rights…
- He stopped three child marriages and helped the girls promised in marriage receive access to education;
- He helped two girls working as child labourers pursue higher education;
- He found support for a youth to continue his post-secondary education; and
- He’s encouraged 15 families to install toilets in their homes with support from a government grant, which he helped them access.
The young leader initially faced some opposition, but he’s since been accepted and applauded for his efforts.
In fact, he works with the Village Development Committee and local volunteers to help his peers. He’s built a relationship with local police and government officials, calling them and sharing challenges. And, he talks to students about their rights during lunch at school.
Jyoti Munirathinam, leader of the Village Development Committee, recognizes Chandrasekar is wise beyond his years. “He is a young leader doing things like an experienced leader,” she affirms.
So, it’s fitting this rising star has been presented with a “Change-maker award” by the local police.
Find out how you can join in helping more children realize their rights. Sponsor a child today.
ABOUT CHILDREN BELIEVE:
Children Believe works globally to empower children to dream fearlessly, stand up for what they believe in — and be heard. For 60+ years, we’ve brought together brave young dreamers, caring supporters and partners, and unabashed idealists. Together, we’re driven by a common belief: creating access to education — inside and outside of classrooms — is the most powerful tool children can use to change their world.
About ChildFund Alliance:
A member of ChildFund Alliance, Children Believe is part of a global network of child-focused development organizations working to create opportunities for children and youth, their families and communities. ChildFund helps nearly 23-million children and their families in 70 countries overcome poverty and underlying conditions that prevent children from achieving their full potential. We work to end violence against children; provide expertise in emergencies and disasters to ease the harmful impact on children and their communities; and engage children and youth to create lasting change and elevate their voices in decisions that affect their lives.