A friend indeed: The XLRI campus in Jamshedpur on Tuesday. (Bhola Prasad)
A 13-year-old schoolgirl may obsess over how many “likes” her latest Facebook picture got, but she still loves spotting fireflies in her garden. A 16-year-old schoolboy may fight with his parents everyday for a bike, but the thrill he feels when his maths teacher suddenly doesn’t turn up is unmatched.
Worried about teen suicides, stressed and dysfunctional schoolchildren, XLRI, which set up counselling centre Samarthya in 2012, recently did a random survey of school students to find out what makes them tick.
The results were heartening.
School students said they still loved the simple joys of life such as fireflies in the dark, babies playing, a suddenly-absent teacher leading to a surprise free period and so on.
Samarthya, which now has 26 XLRI students as counsellors and facilitators, and is mentored by faculty member I.S.F Irudayaraj, works on the concept of buddy system. XLRI students play buddy to their younger counterparts in schools such as Motilal Nehru Public School, DAV Public School-Bistupur and DBMS English School.
“Our whole idea is to help stressed students find meaning in life, career guidance, leadership and personality development,” Irudayaraj said. “We are glad students haven’t forgotten simple pleasures. It’s a good building ground for emotional health.”
Samarthya also has an email, a blog and an FB page for Internet-savvy school students to vent out.
Students can write to firstname.lastname@example.org, blog at samarthya-xlri.blogspot.in, or befriend SamarthyaXLRI on Facebook to contact their “XL buddies”.
“XLRI students already have an organisational behaviour course where they learn to overcome problems, conduct group activities and such things. So they simply modify it and implement it in school. Students on the other hand feel XL guys are clued-in and approachable,” Irudayaraj added.
So, if a student goes through heartbreak or family problems or a bad patch academically, he or she can speak their mind to the older buddy, who then will design unique activities to help the school-goer cope.
Irudayaraj added that he and his team would network with more schools, principals, youth icons and mentors.
“Together, we can help develop a culture and model of counselling in institutions. The need of the hour is to understand and listen to kids. They are full of surprises. You can’t just dish out solutions without understanding their problems,” said Irudayaraj.
As a teenager, what are your top five joys? Tell email@example.com