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National service scheme was formed in India in 1969.The main goal of NSS is to foster national integration and social harmony, its motto being 'Not Me, But You'. The symbol of the NSS, the giant Rath Wheel stands for continuity as well as change and symbolizes the continuous striving of the NSS for social change.NSS helps students understand the community in which they work: it uses their knowledge to find practical solutions to community problems. NSS creates a sense of social and civic responsibility in the students who enroll as volunteers.
To generate social awareness among the students
To train students towards responsible leadership.
To strengthen the spirit of service and sacrifice in the younger generation
To foster over all personality development through community service.
These objectives are realized through various activities under the guidance and supervision of the NSS Programme Officers.
The College NSS has five units under the University of Madras. 500 enthusiastic volunteers (undergraduates) actively participate in various social service activities. The NSS activities are of two types - one is the regular activity and the other is the special camp. The NSS volunteers who have completed two years of service and who have completed 20 hours of service in two academic years and the special camp (which is for ten days) are awarded certificates.
The regular activities of the NSS include participation in rallies, seminars, camps, programs on social evils, domestic violence, gender issues, diabetes, road safety, the environment and AIDS awareness programs. The volunteers also make regular visits to old age homes, orphanages and slums. They also have programs for the visually challenged and the ‘differently abled’. Programs for the education of children and empowerment of the poor, especially women are also held. The volunteers also participate in a variety of cultural programmes and competitions and frequently volunteer their services for the college functions. Few NSS volunteers are chosen to attend the prestigious Republic Day training camp and participate in the Republic Day Parade in Delhi or in Chennai. All the NSS activities of the college are organized and monitored by the NSS program officers.
One of the annual activities of the NSS is the special camp which is held either in a village or in a slum in the city. From 2009 to 2012, Ayothiya Kuppam in Chennai was adopted for the camp. In this camp NSS volunteers brought various services to the residents. Ways of preparing simple handicrafts were taught to women and they were informed about the benefit of forming self-help groups. The volunteers also conducted a survey on the socio-economic conditions of the residents.
Besides these activities, the NSS units also organize various camps like eye camps, veterinary camps, blood donation camps and health camps. Seminars, workshops, cultural programs, training programs and awareness programs are held in collaboration with public and private organizations and NGOs. Apart from service to society, these activities give the student volunteers greater exposure and the wherewithal to deal with social issues.
The Youth Red Cross Unit of Queen Mary’s College has witnessed some fulfilling moments over the years. Since the demography of the college alters every year, with the third years leaving and the ‘freshers’ joining, the Youth Red Cross Unit begins its activities with an Orientation Programme where the participants are acquainted with the origin of the Red Cross Movement and its aims and objectives. Resource Persons from IRCS (Indian Red Cross Society) and experienced YRC Co-ordinators at the District and University Levels address the participants on this occasion. Two other annual programmes of the YRC unit are the First Aid Training Programme and Blood Donation Programme.
Some innovative programmes such as a Street Theatre Workshop and Storytelling for the children of the SSL (Social Service League School), Queen Mary’s College were conducted. At the end of the one-day Street-Theatre workshop, the students were equipped not only with the fundamentals of this genre of theatre, but also with the ability to stage street plays. The volunteers exhibited a remarkable ability to express themselves through art form. Storytelling, about great humanitarians like Henry Dunant (founder of the Red Cross Movement) and Florence Nightingale also provided the school children with role models for their own lives.
The Orientation Programme for Youth Red Cross Volunteers is held at two levels - collegiate and intercollegiate. The venue for the latter is the IRCS (Indian Red Cross Society) Centre on Montieth Road, Egmore. Volunteers who show exceptional commitment at the college level are selected to participate at the intercollegiate level.
As good leadership is the need of the hour, Leadership Training Programmes are organized as part of the YRC unit’s activities. Foundational to many of the YRC activities is the principle that “charity begins at home”. The volunteers are engaged from time to time in campus cleaning in order to raise awareness about the students’ initiative in the upkeep of the campus and the general principle of keeping one’s surroundings clean and green.
It is heartening to witness how the YRC activities transform young college girls into women of courage, conviction and strength. The Red Cross Movement’s commitment to fostering and nurturing the spirit of service has powerfully impacted the youth of our nation: the YRC volunteers of Queen Mary’s College are evidence of this.
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