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Inspiring Journey of Mr Ashok Shankar Rathod and OSCAR Foundation

In the bustling city of Mumbai, where dreams often clash with the harsh realities of life in the slums, one man dared to dream differently. Mr. Ashok Shankar Rathod, a visionary leader, grew up facing the challenges of a slum, understanding firsthand the struggles that come with limited opportunities. His journey from adversity to empowerment is not just a personal triumph but the foundation of a movement that has touched the lives of thousands.

In 2010, Mr. Ashok Shankar Rathod laid the cornerstone of the OSCAR Foundation — a beacon of hope, using football as a catalyst for social change and empowerment.

Roots of Determination:

Ashok Shankar Rathod's story is a testament to the profound influence of family and personal experiences in shaping one's commitment to social change. Born and raised in very modest settlements of Ambedkarnagar community, in Colaba, in South Mumbai, Mr. Ashok encountered the challenges inherent in such environments. However, it was his father's foresight that charted the course for a unique journey.

Amidst the struggles of slum life, Mr. Ashok's father made a pivotal decision, deviating from conventional expectations. Anticipating the perils of uncontrolled money for an uneducated youth, he prioritized education and life skills over immediate income for Ashok. This seemingly restrictive choice became the cornerstone of Mr. Ashok Shankar Rathod's determination, instilling in him a profound understanding of the transformative power of education.

His father's foresight not only shielded him from potential pitfalls but also sowed the seeds of a broader vision. Recognizing education as a tool for empowerment, his determination was fueled by a desire to extend this protection to other underprivileged children facing similar circumstances.

Foundation of Change:

In 2010, Mr. Ashok Shankar Rathod, fueled by his commitment to social change, founded the OSCAR (Organization for Social Change, Awareness, and Responsibility)
Foundation with the belief that football could be a powerful tool for transformation. His vision was clear: to provide not just physical training through sports but also to instill vital life skills, promote education, and foster holistic development among the youth of slums.

Programs and Initiatives:

OSCAR Foundation accomplishes its goals through some of its key programmes such as:

Football Programme:

OSCAR Foundation's transformative Football Programme uses soccer as a tool to capture the interest of children from low-income families. The in-house curriculum, led by AIFF D-License coaches, not only introduces them to football but imparts essential life skills, ensuring holistic development that extends beyond the field.

Education Programme:

OSCAR breaks down education barriers with Digital Learning Centres, providing underprivileged children access to computers. Beyond digital literacy, the initiative bridges the digital divide by offering free internet resources, along with courses and certifications from organizations like NIIT.

Young Leaders Programme:

OSCAR's impact extends through the visionary Young Leaders Programme, identifying and nurturing youth from low-income communities. Past beneficiaries undergo specialized training to become coaches, passing on inspiration to new regions. This program is a commitment to transforming lives and creating a ripple effect of positive change through empowered leaders.

Changing Lives, One Goal at a Time:

Since 2010, the foundation has supported over 14,000 children and trained over 750+ young leaders, demonstrating its commitment to empowering underprivileged youth through education and life skills training. The foundation's Community Learning Centers and Digital Learning Centers have provided educational support to over 1200 children, and its focus on football and life skills training has contributed to the overall development of the children. Additionally, the foundation has sent over 115 children on international exposure visits, providing them with opportunities to learn and grow beyond their local communities.

Recognition and Awards:

Ashok Shankar Rathod's dedication and the OSCAR Foundation's impactful work have not gone unnoticed. In 2009, Rathod was honored with the Reliance Real Hero award, a testament to his extraordinary efforts in transforming lives. Media outlets, including the BBC, have recognized and shared Rathod's story, bringing attention to the innovative approach of using football as a tool for social development.

Beyond Boundaries:

The story of Ashok Shankar Rathod and the OSCAR Foundation has transcended local boundaries. Mr. Ashok Shankar Rathod's story is now a part of the CGBSE board school textbook in Chhattisgarh, an acknowledgment of the foundation's significant impact on education and empowerment. The recognition serves as a source of inspiration for students, encouraging them to believe in the transformative power of education and community engagement.

Mr. Ashok Shankar Rathod's words echo through the story in the textbook, reminding young minds that no dream is too big, and with determination and education, they can script their own success stories.

A Lasting Legacy:

Ashok Shankar Rathod's journey from the narrow alleys of a Mumbai slum to the pages of school textbooks is a testament to the power of vision, determination, and unwavering belief in the potential of every child. The OSCAR Foundation's innovative approach, under Mr. Ashok Shankar Rathod's leadership, has not only changed the trajectory of individual lives but has also left an indelible mark on communities.As we celebrate the achievements of this extraordinary individual and the foundation he built, let it be an inspiration and a call to action for all of us to contribute to the empowerment of the next generation, proving that dreams can be realized, no matter where you start.

Copyrights © 2024 Inspiration Unlimited eMagazine

Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 26th February 2024.

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