Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards- Scale, Scope and Social conscience
The 'Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards' (SOCA) is an annual nationwide search to identify and recognize school students who have made a positive difference in their communities through voluntary community service. SOCA was introduced in India in 2010 and over the last 4 years, has received applications from approx. 14,000 students from over 700 schools across the country.
During the last 4 years, the 'Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards' has become a part of the lives of thousands of schools and students across the country, who participate in it year-on-year. The response continues to grow each year - not just because the program is gaining recognition, but because it implies that a larger number of students are now coming forward to make a change in society and work for the benefit of their communities.
This year, 30 school students in Classes VI to XII were felicitated from across the country for their extraordinary efforts at the 4th annual Pramerica Spirit of Community Awards ceremony at a five star Hotel in New Delhi. These finalists were shortlisted from over 5,000 applications received in a nationwide search for the country’s top student volunteers. Film actress and social activist Ms. Dia Mirza was the Chief Guest at the event.
All the 30 finalists were then interviewed by an eminent jury panel comprising Ms. Amita Tandon, Education Specialist with UNICEF, Mr. Anil Baijal, retired IAS Officer and Chairman of the IDFC Foundation; Prof. Raj S. Dhankar, Dean of Faculty of Management Studies (FMS) Delhi, Ms. Soha Moitra, Regional Director - North in CRY; and Mr. Vishvesh Prabhakar, Managing Director - Operations at Accenture Management Consulting at the CNN IBN studio to select the two winners in the Individual category and a group category winner.
This awards programme organized by DHFL Pramerica Life Insurance Co. (DPLI) is the India chapter of the Spirit of Community Awards, the largest youth recognition programme in the United States based exclusively on volunteer service. Introduced in 1995 by Prudential Financial, Inc. (PFI), DPLI’s international Joint Venture partner, the U.S. programme has seen participation from nearly 370,000 school students and more than 100,000 of them have been officially recognized for their meaningful contributions towards their communities. India is the 6th country outside the United States to conduct the Awards programme. Other participating countries include PFI subsidiaries in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Ireland and China.
The top honours in the Individual Category went to a student named Aakash Pawar, a Class XI student of Sahoday Senior Secondary School, Hauz Khas, New Delhi, who has been teaching underprivileged children and conducting holistic development programs for them for almost 7 years through his own NGO, Nai Tamanna and Maneka Sharma, a Class XII student of The Shri Ram School, Aravali, Gurgaon for her efforts towards water conservation, including authoring a book on the topic to encourage children to save water. Both the winners were presented with gold medallions, a cash prize of Rs. 50,000 each, and a return trip to Washington, D.C. in May 2014. While in Washington, D.C., they represented India in the felicitation ceremonies for Spirit of Community Award winners from all participating countries.
The jury also selected a group of five students from Class VIII, Rachana School, Ahmedabad as the winner in the Group Category for their initiative to set up a butterfly garden in their school and working to develop and nurture it. They were presented with gold medallions and a cash prize of Rs. 50,000 to be shared among them. 15 other well deserving finalists in the Individual Category and 8 more in the Group Category received Certificates of Merit and Silver medallions.
The national recognition events for Spirit of Community Awards winners held in Washington, D.C. every year include gala award ceremonies at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, tours of the capital’s historic monuments and landmarks, a festive dinner cruise on the Potomac River, and plenty of opportunity for the students to share their experiences and ideas with one another. The winners also heard from notable public figures, which in the past have included Jimmy Carter, Barbara Bush, Whoopi Goldberg, Colin Powell, Sarah Ferguson (the Duchess of York), Laura Bush, Condoleeza Rice, Ian Manning and Kevin Spacey.
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