IT company organises dusk-to-dawn events to wean youngsters off dissipative habits. Liffy Thomas reports.

It’s 6 p.m. and day has just begun for students and volunteers who have assembled at Chennai Higher Secondary School in Pallikarnai. Volunteer Newton kick-starts the dusk-to-dawn programme with an interactive game, followed by a pep-talk. Over 30 girls and boys, who are camping under the stars, are all ears as Newton gives an inspired speech.

This is one of many night vigil camps conducted at different pockets of the city for members of Police Boys Club by HCL.

The HCL Technologies (HCLT) Foundation adopted 19 of 155 Police Boys Clubs in the city over a year ago and christened them HCLT Youth Centres. As many as 1,000 employee volunteers, trained by UNICEF, conduct these programmes during weekends.

They help make a change by bringing in experts, conducting team building activities and offering one-on-one counselling. They also conduct life skills training during the night vigils thereby helping students extricate themselves from drug and tobacco addictions. During every such event, a police constable is in attendance through the night. These programmes are believed to benefit participants. A total of 127 students from 13 HCLT Youth Centres and nine of the 10 girls from the juvenile home passed the Class XII Board examination.

“About 45 youngsters have been rehabilitated through the night vigil. These boys were substance and tobacco abusers,” says Prijoe Tharu, a volunteer for the last eight months. According to volunteers, every club has its own set of challenges. The OMR belt is fraught with many problems. Especially Kannagi Nagar, which has a high crime rate. In Ambattur, high school dropout rate is the issue.

For optimum results, the clubs engage with the youngsters on a daily basis, helping them with an array of activities.

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