The Bharat Scout and Guides in the State is planning to focus more on street children, particularly those in slum areas of Chennai.
“The National Headquarters last year had asked to send a report on street children, abandoned, handicapped and children belonging to the weaker sections of society in Scouts and Guides,” said V. Sundaramurthy, State Organising Commissioner and State Training Commissioner (In-charge), Tamil Nadu Scouts and Guides.
At this year's summer camp in Chennai for Scout Masters in the State, many trainees associated with open units are taking part. The members of these open units of Scouts and Guides also include street children, apart from those at school, he added.
A total of 1.32 lakh boys and 65,590 girls are part of the movement in the State. According to officials, efforts are on to make the dropouts and street children also beneficiaries of the Scout and Guide Movement.
The summer camp is normally held in Coonoor. But because of water scarcity there, it is being organised at the State headquarters in Chennai for the last two years, said an official.
G. Rajesh, a unit leader of an open unit of Scouts and Guides in Tondiarpet, is one among the trainees.
“Six new members of my unit of 21 Scouts are street children. After the camp, more such children are likely to join,” he says. The units would create awareness on our value system, culture and the need for school education among the street children, he says. “We will take the schoolchildren who are in the scout and guide movement to slum areas and locate the areas without access to library facility,” said J. Thulaseedharan, one of the Scout Masters and a teacher of Alagappa School. “Most schools use the Scouts and Guides only for cleaning the premises. But the potential of these disciplined students is enormous and can create a change in society,” he said.
V.C. Shreya, another Scout Master who works with a private company, says: “We are giving importance to community service and the open units would inspire children to contribute towards society's well being.” Some of the participants of the Scout Master summer training camp such as M.Siva and G.Velu had been school dropouts who were abandoned by their parents.