Dr. Neelam Gorhe & experts from different sectors touched on various aspects of child development; Dignitories appreciated ‘Good Touch Bad Touch’, an initiative started by Usha Kakade, Founder of Gravittus Foundation

Pune (Maharashtra) [India], June 22: With the objective of creating awareness on the topic of child health & development and discussing a way forward, a roundtable conference was jointly organized by the Gravittus Foundation (an initiative by Usha Kakade) and UNICEF in the city on Monday. The conference was focused mainly on child health and development, children’s literacy and the participation of youth in water management. All the dignitaries appreciated the ‘Good Touch Bad Touch’, an initiative started by Usha Kakade, Founder and President of the Gravittus Foundation. This initiative is very useful in preventing abuse and violence against and within the demographic.

Dr. Neelam Gorhe, Deputy Chairperson of Maharashtra Legislative Council and Rajeshwari Chandrasekar, Chief of Field Office at UNICEF Maharashtra, inaugurated the conference. Eminent artists, activists, and other concerned members of civil society took part in the conference. They included Dr. Vidya Yerwadekar, Pro-Chancellor, Symbiosis International University and Principal Director of Symbiosis Society, Farah Khan, Indian Film Director & Writer, Adv. Divya Chavan, Lawyer; Padmini Kolhapure, Indian Actress and Singer, Dr. Medha Kulkarni, National Vice President, BJP Mahila Morcha, Dr. Avinash Bhondwe, Former State President, Indian Medical Association; Sanjay Haldikar, Writer & Director Child Theatre, Dr. Amita Phadnis, Child Specialist Pediatrician & Neonatologist, Laxminarayan Tripathi, Transgender Rights Activist, Rahul More Deputy Commissioner, Women & Child Development, Maharashtra State, Amitabh Gupta, Additional Director General of Police of Prison and Correctional Services, Mumbai, Maharashtra, Jugnu Gupta, Social Worker & Arun Khore, Senior Editor and writer. All the dignitaries came together to explore the relevance and seriousness of the subject matter and its global impact. The points discussed in a free-wheeling conversation were followed up with a necessary action plan to create widespread awareness on the subject.

Dr. Neelam Gorhe advised to the Department of child welfare and Education to implement the ‘good touch, bad touch’ initiative across the state with the help of UNICEF and the Gravittus Foundation on Child Rights and Development. Gorhe added that the Juvenile Justice Act and other child safety programs should also be available in Marathi.

Rajeshwari Chandrasekhar said children’s rights can be divided into four sections – the right to survival, to protection, to participation and to development. Right to survival means that the child has a fair right to birth, nutrition, health and sanitation, she said. As per our statistics, for every 100 girls that join Std I, less than 50 reach Std V. For this, Unicef is starting a reading campaign, she added.

Usha Kakade, founder-president of Gravittus Foundation, said health and development, children’s literacy, and youth participation in water management were the primary discussion points at the conference. Four lakh children have been reached so far under the ‘Good Touch, Bad Touch’ initiative by our foundation. Though the stories of abuse were traumatic, we were able to help them. We will now take this message ahead by holding conferences in Solapur, Kolhapur and Nagpur in three months with the help of Unicef, Kakade said.

Amitabh Gupta mentioned the importance of child-friendly police stations. He said our laws and systems are sufficient, but we have a problem with a lack of information networks. Farah Khan said Films are a more influential medium to aware people. We can take advantage of this medium to make aware of Child rights and their problems too. Padmini Kolhapure focused on parenting. Laxminarayan Tripathi urged that UNICEF must have to consider the problems of transgenders. 

Dr. Amita Phadnis emphasises good parenting, mental wellness and nutrition. Dr. Vidya Yerwadekar said that every child has to teach to respect girls. Parents should communicate with children openly and give good time to them. Sanjay Haldikar shared his experiences and mentioned the importance of street play for creating awareness. Advocate Divya Chavan appealed for child-friendly courts in India. 

Jugnu Gupta and Arun Khore also put their views on the subject. A film screening was also conducted, elaborating on the rights of children to survival, development, protection, and participation. Swati Mohapatra, a communication specialist at UNICEF, Mumbai, facilitated the conference. Leena Saldanha compared the conference. Sanghmitra Khore gave a vote of thanks.

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