The event brought together young minds from various backgrounds, fostering a sense of togetherness and empowering them to be catalysts for positive change.
The much-anticipated SRMD London Youth Festival, the first of its kind in the UK, left a lasting impression on each of the 350 Youth who travelled from all over the UK to attend. Organised by Shrimad Rajchandra Mission Dharampur UK (SRMD UK), this extraordinary event brought together young minds from various backgrounds, fostering a sense of togetherness and empowering them to be catalysts for positive change.
Through an action packed schedule of 25 curated events, across Wisdom, Wellness, Service, Culture and Sport, the SRMD London Youth Festival brought about a transformative experience that ignited creativity, instilled empathy, and motivated the youth to embrace their potential as changemakers. Moreover, the organisers took steps to minimise the environmental impact by decorating the entire venue and creating feature walls using upcycled materials such as wooden crates and milk cartons.
Embodying the tagline ‘Meet the Real You’, the Festival commenced with a session led by Global Youth Speaker and Head of SRMD Yoga, Atmarpit Shraddhaji on the topic ‘Unmasking Yourself’. The session inspired participants to take a moment to truly reflect on their authentic selves and reminded all present that they do not need to fit in by changing who they are, but instead instilled a sense of belonging by being exactly who they are!
Manthan Taswala, Trustee of SRMD UK and organiser of the SRMD London Youth Festival shared, ‘Drawing from the guidance we have received from Pujya Gurudevshi Rakeshji, the Founder of SRMD and His powerful vision for the youth, our aim was to create a dynamic and safe space where the youth could connect, collaborate, and draw inspiration from one another. Through this Festival and future events, we aspire to nurture a community of compassionate and empathetic leaders who actively contribute to a better world.’
A highlight of the Festival was the Changemakers Panel, composed of powerful women who have challenged the status quo. The panel included Philanthropist and Trustee of the Serendipity Foundation, Varsha Sehgal, Assistant Head of Coaching at QPR F.C. Manisha Tailor MBE and Head of ESG Strategy, Wholesale Lending at Barclays, Heeral Shah. The interactive discussion captivated the audience and opened their eyes to the various ways they could contribute to making a change in society, ranging from helping those whose voices are not heard, using sports as a medium to connect, and by encouraging conversations about diversity to empower people from all walks of life.
To foster the notion of team spirit and promote physical and mental well-being, the Festival included a lively sports tournament consisting of over 40 teams playing football, cricket, badminton and netball. Moreover, the youth were energised and found their zen with a specially curated ‘Techno Yoga’ session and ‘Glowstick Meditation’. Who said Yoga and Mindfulness was boring?
The wet weather also did not dampen the energy of the youth that flowed through the weekend with over 200 participants overcoming their fears and focusing on mind over matter, by walking on fire!
One such participant from Leicester, found out about the Festival through social media and travelled 90 miles each day to attend, ‘I didn’t know anybody prior to the start of the Festival and was greeted with a bunch of warm, friendly, vibrant and welcoming people. It was so refreshing to meet not only like-minded people but also people from different backgrounds. I thoroughly enjoyed every moment and glad I put myself out there now. The events were incredibly well planned with so much thought and organisation that went behind this to make this such a magical experience for us all.’
Participants were also mesmerised by the exciting ‘ImmerseVerse’ – an immersive collection of unique experiences and stalls including blind drawing and doodling, an affirmation wall, ‘jamming’ corner, board game bazaar, ‘readers’ retreat and opportunity to engage in experience booths such as ‘The Art of Smart Living – Life Hacks to Take Home’, and ‘Flex Your Mental Muscle, Unlock Your Brain’s Potential’.
The two day event culminated with the Social Impact Hackathon, a unique concept to turn challenges into opportunities, opportunities into ideas and ideas into innovation. The Social Impact Hackathon included 45 participants, divided into 8 teams who worked together to create solutions to 3 key challenges the youth face today;
1) Breaking Down Barriers – improving access to mental health services within the South Asian community.
2) Opening Doors – bridging the housing accessibility gap for young professionals
3) Less Waste, More Taste – minimizing food waste and combat the impact of climate change
With a combination of brainstorming, problem-solving and mentor guidance, participants managed to define their challenge, refine their ideas and design a comprehensive solution; all in 36 hours! Of the teams, 3 were selected to pitch their solutions in front of a panel of 6 esteemed judges including Executive Coach and Host of globally renowned podcast ‘A Millenial Mind’, Shivani Pau, highly distinguished Psychiatrist and former Chairman of BAPIO, Professor JS Bamrah CBE, Lead social worker at Kent and Medway Perinatal Mental Health Service, Priti Joshi, self-made Entrepreneur, Philanthropist and Founder of Redsky Homes Group, Tejinder Sekhon, Co-founder of RefillAbell!, Sameer Kassam and Chief of Staff at Olio, Rohan Sheth. Sharing her thoughts on the event Shivani Pau shared, ‘I was really blown away, there is a really wonderful energy here and I don’t think I’ve been to an event like this. If this was every year or regular, I am sure loads of people would love to meet like-minded individuals as this provides a space for people, regardless of background, religion, or culture.’
The winning team of the Social Impact Hackathon pitched their solution to improving access to mental health services and were invited by Mr Dean Russell, MP for Watford and Co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Mental Health, to discuss their idea further at Parliament. Leaving the youth with a motivational message, Mr Russell shared ‘Failures are stumbling blocks to learn from and opportunities to pick yourselves up, look back and understand what can be done differently. If we all look that way, we can make a difference. It is only when we work together and weave ourselves together and when we’re a community, that we can make the impossible happen. Continue planting the seed of your ideas in the ground; water it, nurture it and let it grow and you will make the world a different place.’
In today’s interconnected world, cultivating a sense of community and understanding among the youth has become paramount. The SRMD London Youth Festival recognises this imperative and has provided a platform for young individuals to share their unique perspectives, experiences, and talents. By doing so, the Festival has successfully nurtured a generation of empathetic leaders who value diversity can harness positive community energy and spirit.
For more information and how to be a part of future youth events organised by SRMD UK, please visit london.srmd.org.