Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Committed to Care – Adapting community outreach during COVID times

My association with Nestlé’s Healthy Kids Programme dates back to 2016 and you all have seen me talk about the initiative since. They celebrated their tenth year anniversary last year, and I was happy to be a part of this commemoration. The Nestlé Healthy Kids Programme was started in 2009, to spread awareness on health and nutrition. In 2014, Nestlé partnered with the Magic Bus India Foundation with the aim to scale up their initiative.

The programme is focused on providing education on nutrition to adolescents between the age group of 10 to 17, in rural and backward areas of urban cities. Nestlé's goal is to create and raise awareness regarding good nutritional practices, cooking methods to enhance the nutritional content of foods and physical fitness among children. They use education as the tool to ensure the youth understand the value of nutrition and physical activity, so that they can lead a healthy life as adults.

They follow a four-point approach, which focuses on:
1. Nutrition Awareness
2. Physically Active Lifestyle
3. Waste Management
4. Sports for Development (S4D) - S4D is intentional use of sports as a metaphor to derive developmental outcomes.

Due to the pandemic, they have had to make amendments to the programme in response to the crisis. While speaking to the team, I was thrilled to learn how well they have coped and adjusted to the situation. What had me surprised is the cooperation of the adolescents and their parents! They obliged, when asked to switch to online mediums for accessing the programme. 

The sessions conducted by Nestle, that are a part of the #HealthyKids program, on nutrition, health and hygiene were carried out virtually in containment and red zones. WhatsApp and tele calling were also used to pass on necessary information on these subjects. Face to face and interactive sessions were held in all the places where lockdown had been lifted.

Here's how Magic Bus is responding to the COVID-19 situation through virtual training for their staff:
1. Magic Bus has put to use its Learning Management System – Magic Bus Academy and uploaded modules on the prevention of COVID -19 on this mobile app based learning platform thus eliminating the need for physical training.
2. Posters, comic books and videos have also been uploaded to circulate information on COVID.
3. Several staff members have also undergone the Nehru Yuva Kendra Sangathan training and learned the techniques to prevent Coronavirus. 

Considering the situation, activities are carried on virtually in many areas. To prevent community outbreak, the team has adopted the following ways to create awareness:

● Social media messages are sent out and phone calls are made to educate community members across India on the steps to be taken to prevent COVID-19. Here’s what the staff did; Every member of the team was asked to record a video of proper hand washing technique and forward it to 10 community members. These individuals were then encouraged to forward it to another 10, creating a chain of information. Video calls, reminder messages and pledge campaigns are carried out continuously in these communities.

● The adolescents part of the programme were encouraged to stay home and assignments were given on topics related to health, nutrition and waste management, to keep them engaged.

● The volunteers demonstrated the use of Arogya Setu app and helped in enabling online application of Ration Cards. They also provided information on immunity boosting foods through phone calls and WhatsApp messages.

● Community mapping was followed by the team for door to door hand washing and sanitization campaigns. In addition, they also created and distributed face masks to the rest of the community.

● The hallmark day, this year, was celebrated virtually and was a huge success.

The initiative by Nestlé in association with Magic Bus India Foundation, has had a strong impact on the lives of many adolescents across the country. The teams have been working tirelessly to achieve their goals and I am honoured to be a part of a project that has the potential to shape the future of many.

Here's a throwback to the great time I had with their lovely kids in 2016!

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