These are unique clubs with a purpose. There are more than 100 of them in the city. They are not centre for entertainment, but are education based. These clubs focus on moulding the personality of the under-privileged youth. It is here, a number of youngsters from the local slums get an opportunity to participate in cultural activities, sports and competitions.

To prevent delinquency

Called Boys Club, it was conceptualised in the early 1950s and began by officers of the police department to prevent delinquency among slum children whose parents (mother or father) happened to be jail. These children were encouraged in sports and other related activities. The activities which were alive for nearly two decades slowly faded away.

When J. Jayalalithaa, became the Chief Minister, she revived these clubs in 2002. She instructed for a scout master and care taker to be appointed and about 75 clubs were activated and a sum of Rs. 66,000 was also sanctioned to each club.

Mythli Sriram, social activist and a consultant CSR, who has been involved with these clubs for long, says, “The Boys Clubs were founded as a community policing project. Boys in the slums who came back from schools had no one to be supervised at home and indulged in petty crimes, thefts selling of drugs and so on.”

She adds that in order to channelise their energy in a better manner, they were registered into these clubs and taught a number of activities. This did bring about a change in their personality.

The boys enrolled into the clubs are in the age-group of eight to 18 and attend classes during the weekends. They are involved in a lot of recreational or talent promotional activities, taught music and given support for their education. Personality development and spoken English classes are also held here.

Initially, each police station adopted a slumA scout master, a teacher and a care taker are appointed andwere paid a salary out of the allotted funds. As part of festival celebrations, competitions are conducted and prizes are given to encourage the boys.

The club activities reach out to the families too. Women are given vocational training, SHGs are formed and medical camps are held. This also developed a good police-public relationship.

Now many NGOs, Lions Clubs and corporates have evinced interest to be part of the project. Though the Government has increased the amount to Rs. 75, 000 per club with the help of these external agencies, the members derive more benefits.

For instance, HCL has adopted about 24 clubs in different locations in the city and has offered to train them in computers.

They also encourage their employees to be involved with these clubs as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). With more and more people stepping in, it has helped to bring about a real change in attitude among the boys.

“In one of the clubs, HCL not only helped to train the boys to play the band but also gave them an opportunity to perform. With these supports, the clubs can be turned more productive,” says Mythili.

J. K. Tripathy, commissioner of police, evinces interest in community policing, especially about the Boys Clubs.

The Commissioner was also the recipient of the International Community Policing Award conferred by the International Association of Chiefs of Police at Toronto, Canada, in 2001 and also has a gold medal for ‘Innovations in Governance' at Glasgow, U.K. in 2002 by the Commonwealth Association for Public Administration and Management.

He received this award for introducing an innovative community policing module in Tiruchy when he served as COP. He received this award for introducing an innovative ‘Community Policing Module' in Trichy, where he served as the Police Commissioner.

He had also launched a ‘Slum Adoption Programme' in which orphans, drop-outs and children mostly from broken families, Ex-convicts etc., were provided an opportunity to go back to school or take up vocational courses, in order to improve their employability and deter them from delinquency.

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From rags to jobsDecember 14, 2012