It all started the afternoon that Debmita and her 11-year-old daughter Noyonika attended a lit-fest talk in Bangalore by a children’s book author. Roopa Pai, the well-known Indian children’s author was running a children’s session based on her book “Ready: 99 Must-Have Skills For The World-Conquering Teen” for adolescents.
A parenting consultant herself, Debmita found that “Ready” listed most of the common skills that she found missing in today’s teens. The book lists 99 skills that today’s children must develop for the world they are growing up into. The very Indian context of the book and the granular plan for the development of each skill set made it very appealing for her 11-year-old daughter Noyonika.
And slowly, over a series of conversations, the mother-daughter duo decided that they would organize the skills into small doable chunks and master them over the summer holidays and dubbed it the Wo-Co Teen challenge( World-conquering teen challenge).
How the challenge caught on
Noyonika’s group of friends, about 10 girls in the group who call themselves the ‘Miss Makers’ were interested in mastering the skills too. That’s when the duo hit upon the idea of creating an easy-to-track 4-week challenge for teenagers. The idea was that more people could learn about it and master these essential life skills.
“Noyonika has been a regular intern with my website since she was 9 years old and I asked her to design the challenge because I thought she would know exactly what challenge level was doable and not overwhelming for a teen/pre-teen,” says Debmita.
How the WoCo Teen challenge is designed
The various life skills are split into 24 badges – into four groups of six each. Four easy skills are positioned during the week so they can be accomplished by children without any help from parents. And Noyonika placed two skills that required help from parents over the weekend. So skills, like cooking or stepping out of the house to survey the roads around to be aware of her surroundings, went on the weekend skills and other skills like writing out important phone numbers and displaying them prominently – or learning housekeeping skills like sweeping or dusting were assigned for weekdays when parents were likely to be at work or otherwise busy.
The month-long challenge is live and open for other teens here. The author of the book, Roopa Pai shares her vision behind the book with parents.
“We have had a terrific time taking the challenge, and its fun helping people break down the challenge to simple things,” says Debmita, who thinks this is especially true since they are taking the challenge themselves. “So for example – the opening of the bank account is something we have helped a lot of kids with, and cooking is something young people are interested in all the time,” she says.
What’s different after taking the challenge?
“So the one big addition to our routine has been Noyonika running 5 Km every morning before leaving for school. This was something she took up as part of the Healthy Human challenge. She slowly built her speed and stamina – and now runs 5 Km in 25 minutes every morning. She also helps with a lot of cooking and she takes over and cooks meals whenever I or my husband are busy with other things,” she adds.
Life-building skills never really go out of fashion and we hope this movement becomes the foundation for a robust, healthy, happy and confident future for all kids.
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