“Youth” the muscle of young India is now suffering from the negligence due to the paralysed Government policies. More than half of the youth population of India living below the poverty line. To address their concerns and give them a helping hand in realizing their dreams is the need of the hour.
In many developing countries poverty and rising crimes seem to go hand in hand. This has proved to be a huge social, economic and political issue.
Sport is increasingly being viewed by the society in general and young people in particular as a tool to achieve personal and community development objectives. Government and non-government agencies, at national as well as international level, are incorporating it in their strategies to address humanitarian and development work. Sport is also being adopted as a part of corporate social responsibility.
Stairs was founded in the year 2000 and formally registered in 2005, with a motive of standing beside those thousands of underprivileged children whose dreams never turned into reality due to the predicament. STAIRS have been working with such children since the time of its inception and have been trying to identify the genuine problems faced by the deprived communities and their children.
Stairs works in the area of sports, education and health sector. At present, the main focus is on sports as we feel that a lot of good work is already being done in the health and education sector by other like-minded organizations. However, in the long run STAIRS do intend to diversify into the other two areas as well.
They have already reached more than 1,50,000 children in regular daily activities. These also include female players. Stairs conducts programs at more than 300 centers spread across four states in India.
The mission is to empower youth to climb ladder of success by enrolling them into sports and education.
To use sports for youth, especially the underprivileged, a stakeholder in the comprehensive growth of the country and steer them away from falling prey to anti-social elements and self-destructing.
In 2011, Stairs started Uflex Khelo Dilli program in Delhi, in association with Uflex Ltd., India’s largest flexible packaging company. Uflex Khelo Dilli was conceptualized with the aim to provide free of cost – space, infrastructure and sports equipment to the less fortunate children of our society, to play. It contains a variety of sports that can be played at these centers like Volleyball, Football, Basketball, Sepak Takraw, Hockey and Cricket. Currently more than 15,000 children across Delhi are regularly playing at 29 Uflex Stairs centers which have been established near the colonies where these children reside. Today, these centers have emerged as a hub of recreation for children from poor families’ economic background and ignited passion for playing in others as evident from increasing number of children getting enrolled at these centers. Football for Change is a part of this program.
The Stairs Khelo Uttar Pradesh started in 2013. It is an effort to empower the specially-abled youth through sports. Stairs wants to bridge the gap between the differently abled and other children by providing them equal opportunities to showcase their talent and polish their skills. It has opened four sports centers at Chak Chintamani, Pipra Khurd, Harpur Mafee and Pakariyaar Bazar Kushinagar in Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh.Stairs has opened one of its kind Cricket academy for differently abled children at Sports Stadium, Ravindra Nagar Dhoos, Padrauna, Kushinagar, UP. In March 2013, Stairs organised a cricket camp for specially-abled children at Sports Stadium, Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh where over 200 differently-abled children were seen in action during the camp. Some of these players were selected for the Uttar Pradesh Cricket Team for the differently abled. In April 2013, Stairs organized a Tri-Series Interstate 20-20 cricket tournament for specially-abled youth. Teams from Delhi, Mumbai and Uttar Pradesh participated in the tournament.
Stairs Khelo Jharkhand was flagged off on January 19, 2014 with Dhanbad mini marathon. The program will cover 67 Gram Panchayats and 112 villages with a population of more than 5.5 lakh. Khelo Dhanbad will provide the youth of the region with access to playing facilities and equipment for five games: Volleyball, Sepak Takraw, Cricket, Hockey and Football.
The project will be completed in three phases. In the first phase, STAIRS will open 50 sports centers in and around Dhanbad which will provide facilities for playing Volleyball and Sepak Takraw. Cricket and Hockey will be introduced in the second phase and Football will be the last game for which playing gear and facilities will be provided.
Khelo Dhanbad will start at district level and the surrounding villages and spread thereon. Stairs will focus on ensuring maximum participation by youth from villages.
Stairs will also launch a scholarship program for players to be selected from the sports centers in the villages. The scholars will be provided a platform to hone their skills.
Stairs Khelo Sirsa (Haryana) is aimed at providing free of cost – space, infrastructure and sports equipment to the less fortunate children. The idea is to encourage young children to simply come out and play and enjoy themselves. The first phase of this project covers Sirsa, Fatehabad & Narwana. In the first phase, Stairs is in the process of opening 250 centers including 50 centers of Sepak Takraw. In the second phase, Stairs will introduce Cricket & Kabaddi. In the third phase, Hockey and Football will be started.
Under Stairs Khelo Himachal, Stairs has set up 15 centers covering more than 100 villages of Himachal Pradesh. Volleyball, Football, Hockey, Kabaddi, Basketball and Handball are played at these centers.
Una is the hub of the program. A large number of players from Una have represented Himachal and even India in different games.
In the first phase Stairs Khelo Odisha football and hockey will be played at centers. Kho kho, kabaddi, cricket and sepak takraw will be introduced in the second phase.
Other Programs from Stairs:
Hockey for Growth is an initiative by Stairs along with Member of Parliament from Odisha and former captain of Indian Hockey team Mr. Dilip Tirkey to connect Bharat with India.
As a part of ‘Hockey for Growth’ program, Stairs will distribute 100,000 Hockey sticks among underprivileged youth across the country. The program also envisages organization of grass-root level tournaments, selection of players for scholarship programs, facilitation of the selected players in the State and National Hockey teams. To accomplish this, individuals, corporate and other institutions are expected to come forward and extend their support towards the cause in the beat of their capacities.
There are more than 500 de-addiction centers across India trying to nurse addicts back into healthy productive lifestyles. But the scourge of drug addiction is spreading. The situation has becime worse as youngsters are increasingly using more synthetic drugs such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine and mandrax than natural ones such as cannabis and hashish. These are far more addictive and injurious to health.
Under Stairs against Drugs (SAD), Stairs uses sports to keep the young away from drugs and help them channelize their energies for personal and economic growth.
STAIRS have observed that children and youth who are out of school or have no extra-curricular activities are especially prone to being enticed by drug dealers. As the first step they shortlist areas where the problem exists or can arise. They visit the areas and connect with the youth by forming teams from the locals and hold tournaments to break ice.
Stairs provides scholarships to youngsters who have displayed a zeal for the sport. Under the Uflex-Stairs Cricket Scholarship Camps 10 students are granted scholarship every year.
Uflex-Stairs Cricket Championship the annual cricket championship for underprivileged children is organized in Una, Himachal Pradesh. Every year, around 20 teams from Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, and Himachal Pradesh participate in Under-14 and Under-16 categories. Talented children are provided coaching, scholarship and sports gear.
Youths are characterized by abundance of energy, strong will and restlessness. It needs to be channelized in the right direction if we want to build a strong nation. Over the years Stairs has done wonders. It has now acquired a scope and spread that makes it akin to a mass movement.
More than 150,000 children have utilized the facilities. Stairs has produced nearly 200 national level players. Four players from Stairs have been selected for the final camp of Sepak Takraw for the 2014 Asian Games to be held at Incheon in South Korea.
Two players from a Delhi Centre of Stairs have made it to the Indian Sepak Takraw team which took part in the 14-nation International Sepak Takraw Federation and Asian Sepak Takraw Federation Super Series India. So far 70 youngsters have received scholarships.
STAIRS endeavor is continuous and increasing the scope of activities to involve more underprivileged youth with them, and help them by providing a platform. Currently there are more than 1 lakh children across India who are enrolled with STAIRS.
Future plans of Stairs involve covering more areas in the interiors of the country as well as supporting more underprivileged youth in the Indian cities. They are in the process of starting a Women empowerment program, wherein, women and girls from the underprivileged background will be taught self-sustenance and financial independence through sports.