New Beginnings


By Rushabh Mehta



Rushabh Mehta is a new Shishuvan parent. His daughter has just begun her Shishuvan journey at Nursery Dhyaan. Rushabh is the founder of ERPNext and blogs at Random-Writeups. He’s blogged about his daughter’s settling in process at Shishuvan and has shared his thoughts with our readers.

Kavya was sticking close to me. We were sitting in a circle. The teacher and nine three year olds, eight mothers and me. The teacher was trying to get the younger ones involved in some rhymes. My voice was barely cracking out of my mouth and Kavya, sensing my discomfort, was quiet. She was watching the unfolding drama of bewildered toddlers and awkward adults trying make sense of it all. We were in Kavya’s new school, Shishuvan and it was first day of the new school.

Only a couple of years back, to the collective horror of our parents and friends, we were thinking of home schooling Kavya. School, we realized did not really work for us. We spent years in numb classrooms, day dreaming and dreading the teachers index finder when it did the Russian roulette, hoping that it did not stop at us. Slowly and steadily we were institutionalised and domesticated. We learnt not to trust our instinct and in return were made to feel mildly competent to be slaves to a modern society. But our big hopes started evaporating when the commitment of raising a child 24×7 started staring in our face coupled with the complete resistance from our families. We would not send her to a regular school for sure. Alternative schools are not a rage in Mumbai and when we started looking, there were only two choices, Tridha or Shishuvan. It was easier to get into Tridha, but we did not want Kavya to spend her afternoons sleeping in a school bus so it left us with Shishuvan. The other schools, we decided were too commercial or too academic to be of any consideration.
And Shishuvan did not disappoint us. I liked the more traditional sounding name of the school and the classes and the uniforms with Indian prints, fusing the modern and the ancient. The school seemed to have a very strong and clear philosophy (with a bias for Powerpoint presentations). Even though I went to a catholic school, I have grown to have a post-colonial world-view. Fed by a range of recent writing on the Asian awakening and my family’s Gandhian background (my grand parents wore khadi), I have learnt to ask uncomfortable questions about our complete cultural submission to the West. In that sense, Shishuvan did not seem to be a sell out.
But the English rhymes were still a bit hard to swallow. English was still the oppressors’ tongue and a language of exclusion for the masses. Politics had entered early into Kavya life and I could only watch helplessly as she was getting prepared to get groomed into an elitist class, just like me. She might grow up thinking in English too, I sighed, slightly afraid of being a radical and yet unwilling to submit fully. Ending up, like many others, resigning to the fact that I had the ability to do neither.
Kavya was still taking time to settle down and was not fully buying into the rhymes either. Not that I minded it. A bit of scepticism for institutions was a healthy sign. The teachers were getting a bit worried though, so were other parents, who were sympathetic since I was clearly struggling to get her comfortable in class. Soon the other parents started dropping out. We spent one full class sitting against the wall, watching other kids do the rhymes. It was only when our chance came to paint, we participated with others. I could see Kavya big round eyes absorbing the new surroundings, only occasionally wanting to poke into the proceedings, fearful of what reactions that might have.
The worst was yet to come. The next day, Kavya would not come out on her own. So Rajitha decided to join us with her big tummy carrying another tiny baby. As soon as we reached the class, Kavya decided to give her best and most ferocious howl. She was not going in. Unfortunately on the day before, she had to be dragged into the classroom and today she was making sure that there was no way she would be dragged. So we had a deal. We would stand outside and only “check out” what was happening. Since I was the only parent, I decided I would not go in. So I picked her on my hip and we stood outside the class, watching through the glass door. The teacher was doing a neat trick. She conjured up a water melon from under a napkin and sliced it into small pieces for the kids. Thankfully, one small piece was sent outside for us. Kavya seemed to like that.
Then came the opening.
We will go in tomorrow, she told me. I could hardly believe my luck. I was preparing for another day of standing out, so I made her repeat it. And she said it alright, she would go in tomorrow. So we happily stood out for the rest of the hour watching other kids go through the motions. We were now prepared for what was to come. And we had done pre-school too and this seemed more of the same – rhymes and some fun. The next day, she did make some noises before going in, but they were very feeble. The day after, she was annoyed that the door was closed (since we were a bit late).
Now she is fully settled in. It was a tough balancing act, but I think we did okay.

A thirst for knowledge

There are no two ways about it: Shishuvan is a vibrant school. From the green and yellow khadi uniforms, to the constant chatter of students rushing along the corridors, to the strains of music coming from various corners of the school and the groups of children sitting in the corridor collaborating on projects – there’s an air or vitality pulsating throughout the school.

One of the many things that stand out in Shishuvan are the board displays. Walk along any corridor in the school and you will see example after example of innovative, informative and interactive displays showcasing what the children are learning and how they are learning it. Student work often plays a starring role in the displays, making more than one yellow and green striped chest puff up with pride as they walk by and catch sight of their handiwork up for the world to see.

Why are board displays so important?

The teachers work on their boards because they know what makes a good display for learning. They know they are crafting a co-teacher by making classroom and corridor walls speak to the children.”

says Kavita Anand, Executive Director of Adhyayan Asia.

But how many of us know the amount of thought and effort that goes behind these boards? Let’s  find out.

Water, water everywhere

If you’ve taken a stroll along the corridors of the first floor recently you can’t have missed the display boards outside Standard I.

The boards welcoming the students to Primary School rapidly made way to a display that superbly demonstrated why learning at Shishuvan is so much fun.

The topic being covered in class was “Water”.

“The lesson plan is the starting point. All the teachers sit down together and work on the lesson plan and discuss how we will bring the topic to life across different subjects. Then we decide what the boards should depict.” recounted Heeral, class teacher of I (Dhyaan).

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Heeral and Brindha discuss how the board should look before starting work. Helpers and students on SUPW duty pitch in.

Shishuvan is a strong believer in the concept of integrated learning. This theory believes that integrated lessons help students make connections across curricula and understand and retain concepts better.

Of the three display boards created, one is an integrated learning board. Here, the teachers used old crayon boxes to make eco-friendly interactive games that covered topics in Maths, English and EVS. The students had their say (as is always the case in Shishuvan) and decided that the game should be called the Window Well Game, after the small windows that hide each question.


Here’s a look at the Window Well game from afar, and in detail

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“We bring the children out in groups of nine and give them a dice to roll. Based on the number they get, they open the corresponding window on the board and answer the question behind it. While one child is at the board answering the question, the other 8 children are writing their answer on the slate” explained Heeral.

The second board was a learning web and showed exactly how the topic of Water was being covered in English, Maths, Hindi, Marathi, Music, Dance, Art, EVS and Library. Charming raindrops, toadstools, frogs and umbrellas are used as design elements and show visitors just what integrated learning is all about.


The Learning Web

The Learning Web

A closer look at the learning web

A closer look at the learning web

What the children are doing in English

What the children are doing in English

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The last board depicts the water cycle, which the children have learned about. Small rain clouds ask the children questions – some cover topics that have been discussed in class and others don’t, making it necessary for the students to think out of the box and come up with answers.


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The standard I board was entirely a collaborative effort. Not only do the teachers of each class sit together and brainstorm for ideas about what goes up on the board, but the class helpers Kishori and Vishaka did an amazing job with scissors, paper and glue, bringing the teacher’s vision to reality. Students from middle school pitched in too and helped as part of SUPW (Socially Useful and Productive Work).

So what boxes should a display board tick for it to come under the “What good looks like” heading?

According to Adhyayan Asia a classroom reflects the school and the teachers’ ideology of what a great learning environment should be.

Displays create a rich environment that is welcoming and engaging and can be colourful, playful, educational and intriguing – all at the same time!

Good classroom displays keep the focus on students’ work while creating a sense of community, ownership and classroom pride amongst the students.

Displays serve the purposes of:

  • Demonstrating and encouraging student’s learning and achievement
  • Acting as a learning aid in the absence/presence of the teacher
  • Providing visual learners with support and ways of engagement
  • Enabling tactile learners to engage with use different textures and material
  • A tool for assessment

But the real litmus test? The students themselves. Watching the children of Standard I crowd around the final display boards excitedly pointing at things and attempting to answer the questions posed, I would say that the I standard display board looks very good indeed. Wouldn’t you?

Standard I team

Sonal and Brindha – I Karma

Veena and Bhawana - I Shraddha

Heeral and Hetal- I Dhyaan

Kishori and Vishaka – Helpers



Two things I love about Shishuvan

By Niraj Matalia
Niraj Matalia is a Chartered Accountant and the Head of Operations at Magnum Equity Broking Ltd. He enjoys reading in his free time, and is an active member of the School’s parent community. He’s one of the driving forces behind the Transport Committee and is always ready to roll up his sleeves and get to work. He has two children at Shishuvan: Unnati in IV Karma and Manav studying in Sr Kg Shraddha. Niraj shares two of his experiences at Shishuvan with our blog readers.
 How a hoax turned into an opportunity.
I am a father of two. At the time of the incident, my older child Unnati was in 3rd standard and my little one Manav was in Jr. Kg. That day was like any another day at the office. It was half past noon and banking, fund management, troubleshooting and phone calls – had taken up most of my morning thanks to my job as the Operations Head in a Stock Broking company.  I took time out to call home and take updates from the kids which I always did when they got back from school.
On that rainy June day, Manav was sad as he was not allowed to bring home his favourite Ben 10 school bag. My wife wondered what had happened, especially when she saw other children crying for their bags when parents picked them up from the back gate. ‘It felt unusual’ she said. I gave it little thought and resumed my work till an SMS from school made me stand up from my seat.
“Dear Parents,
Due to unavoidable circumstances, the school is being closed. Kindly collect your child from the Sports Pavilion, near Gandhi Market, Matunga, before 3:00 p.m.” the short message relayed.
It triggered a chain of thoughts. Why the sudden shutdown? Why the pavilion? Which pavilion? Where is it? What are those unavoidable circumstances? Why can’t the school understand that it may rain heavily any time and they should not point us to a place many parents had never been to?
I was a  Parent Representative and was available to the class parents to answer their questions. Very soon, I was getting a call every minute. They thought a PR must have ‘inside’ information. I regrettably informed them that I had none.  Whatsapp by that time was flooded with rumors. ‘Three live bombs found in Shishuvan, policemen have cordoned the school, bomb squad is in to find more…’ Scared parents started a new round of calls.
I should go to school and find out first hand info‘ I thought and followed my instincts. HODs were right at the gate with (then Principal) Neha Chheda and some police officers. Police vehicles were parked right in front of the  gate instead of school buses. The situation was not good, I thought, but everything looked under control. I asked Namita Talreja ’Where is this pavilion?’. It seemed a long way off. But I entered into a different world – the Shishuvan Pavilion. This National level sports infrastructure I had never seen – didn’t even expect it from such a young school. The rain was pouring by now. Children were arranged according to their department and class. Teachers were in the forefront. Some parents were managing incoming parents crowd. There was a lot of noise. There was no roof. Everyone was soaked. But what I noticed the most was the smiles on everyone’s faces  – teachers, children, parents. They were calm, relaxed. The expected havoc was missing. ‘Every child counts’ and the  teachers were taking care to handover each child to the right parent. A soaked list of students was pierced with a pencil after ‘delivery’ against the child’s name. I was selfish and picked up my daughter and left the place. But I realised what I had done wasn’t right. So soon after changing my soaked clothes at home I went back to get soaked again. Not just in the rain but in the feeling of care, togetherness and the unwritten code of responsibility, selflessness and trust of teachers and the staff. All were safe and together. This was a moment in my life I would never forget. I saluted them from my soul.
Later we were learned how the bomb scare was handled by Shishuvan. The little one’s didn’t even know  why they were being taken to pavilion. It was ensured that children didn’t get scared and they didn’t panic. Everyone from the high school children to the administration, principal and HODs had worked together to maintain the calm. It was an ideal demonstration of how to handle emergencies.
Rationales, for school uniform?  Kya baat karta hai?
Initially, many things about Shishuvan surprised me.  Our neighbour, who is a specialized shopkeeper selling uniforms in Matunga didn’t sell the Shishuvan uniform. Why? because it was special and expensive. There was only one shop in Matunga selling it. ‘Its a cartel’ was my first natural thought. But my thoughts were wrong. It was a Rationale.
How many schools have any rationale for their uniform, it’s colour and style?  Shishuvan has and we are proud of it. It’s logo says so much about the school and the  uniform carries that to a new height. The rationale:
Unisex (gender equality)
Made of Khadi (All weather)
Made by women in a small town in Gujarat (Social & women empowerment)
Colorful (Children love wearing it)
Comfortable (All parts of body are covered and girls can feel the freedom of doing whatever they want – sit, run, jump and play)
Durable (quality is enforced & ensured by Shishuvan).
The students of Shishuvan always stands out in a crowd of other school students. Some parents feel they don’t look smart, but they are smart, because, they are wearing this most wonderful uniform.
It’s good to look smart but its smarter to be comfortable.

Election fever grips Shishuvan

Election mania hasn’t just besieged the country, it’s gotten hold of Shishuvan too! While the nation decides who to vote in to power, our High School students are just as busy weighing the pros and cons of the candidates standing for student parliament.

If you think the Shishuvan Elections are in name only, you couldn’t be farther from the truth. The candidates and voting populace take their right to vote very seriously.

First of all, let’s take a look at the Election schedule

Orientation towards elections – 5th April

Filing of nominations and withdrawals – 7th-11th April

Campaigning period – 12th April

Final Speeches – 12th April

Elections and counting – 14th April

Portfolio Allocation – 17th April

Investiture ceremony – 19th April

The students take the elections very seriously and as teachers our job is to facilitate and oversee the entire process. We don’t get involved otherwise. Candidates make posters, campaign during break time and also use Social media and networking to spread their message. We also have candidates who eschew all of the above and prefer a low key approach, by speaking to students one or one or in small groups, without making any external show of campaigning.” says Head of English, Mini Panikar.

Having their say

The candidates for Prime Minister state their case in front of the entire school – teachers and student body on Speech Day. This year’s speeches were fiery and full of passion – perhaps our PMO could use some of these young ones to help with their speeches?

Once the campaigning period is declared closed it’s time to head to the voting booth.


More than one student referred to April 14th as D-Day for the candidates as it’s  the day the students go to the polls.

The teachers and administrative staff also vote for the key posts. Shhishuvan is clearly a 21st century school, with staff and teachers allowed to vote via email and whatsapp!
This year the Ballot boxes were placed inside the Savla Hall for students to exercise their right to vote. They even get their fingers inked to ensure there’s no multiple voting.

Shishuvan’s alumni stepped in to help yet again, manning the poll booths, inking fingers and directing students.

Another thing worth noting is how  green our elections were. Old cardboard boxes were upscaled in to ballot boxes and the ballot slips themselves were printed on used paper.
The Savla Hall was buzzing with excitement this morning. Shubada Shenoy and her team of High School Teachers were there, answering questions, getting the students to maintain discipline (strictly no talking, since that could be construed as influencing voters – and I saw more than one student disbarred from voting for doing the same). I hope this process shows the students how important it is to exercise their right to vote and inspires them to keep voting through out their adult life and not fall in to a state of apathy.


What’s next?

Once the voting is done, it’s time to count the votes and our alumni swing in to action and help tally the counts and declare the winners.

An investiture ceremony sees the new office bearers take over from the old  guard, and then it’s down to the business of running the student body.

All the best to this year’s candidates and may the best student win!



What teachers make



Indrajit Laurence Panjabi, or ILP, is the Librateur (ILP prefers this word than ‘librarian’) of the Middle and High School library. He shares an inspiring and powerful piece on teachers and teaching, written by education activist Taylor Mali.


TAYLOR MALI spent nine years in the classroom teaching everything from English and history to math and SAT test preparation.

A vocal advocate for teachers and the nobility of teaching, he speaks around the world about teaching.

He has a goal of creating a thousand new teachers for his New Teachers Project through the power of “poetry, persuasion, and perseverance.”







He says the problem with teachers is,

What’s a kid going to learn from someone

who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?

He reminds the other dinner guests that it’s true

what they say about teachers:

Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.

I decide to bite my tongue ~ instead of his ~

and resist the temptation to remind the other dinner guests

that it’s also true what they say about lawyers.

Because we’re eating, after all, and this is a polite conversation.


I mean, you’re a teacher, Taylor. 

Be honest. What do you make?


And I wish he hadn’t done that ~

asked me to be honest ~

because, you see, I have a policy

about honesty and ass-kicking:

if you ask for it, I have to let you have it.

You want to know what I make?


I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.

I can make a C+ feel like a Congressional Medal of Honour

and an A- feel like a slap on the face.

How dare you waste my time with anything less than your best.   


I make kids sit through 40 minutes of study hall

in absolute silence. No you may not work in groups.

No, you may not ask a question.

Why won’t I let you go to the bathroom?

Because you’re bored.

And you don’t really have to go the bathroom, do you?


. . .


I make parents tremble in fear when I call home:

Hi. This is Mr. Mali. I hope I haven’t called at a bad time,

I just wanted to talk about something your son said today.

To the biggest bully in the grade, he said, “Leave the kid alone. 

I still cry sometimes, don’t you? It’s no big deal.”

An it was the noblest act of courage I have ever seen.

I make parents see their children for who they are and what they can be.


You want to know what I make?


I make kids wonder,

I make them question.

I make them criticise.

I make them apologise and mean it.

I make them write, write, write,

and then I make them read.

I make them spell

definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful, definitely beautiful

over and over and over again until they will never misspell

either one of these words again.

I make them show all their work in math,


. . .


and hide it on their final draft in English.

I make them understand that if you got this

then you follow this,

and if someone ever tries to judge you

by what you make, you give them this.


Here, let me break it down for you,

so you know what I say is true:

Teachers? Teachers make a difference!

Now what about you? 


Young blood at the blackboard

Have you ever had a teacher turn up for class in shorts and a t-shirt? Well, that’s what happened to our Middle and High School students this week when they realised that their chemistry, EVS and geography teachers were none other than Shishuvan’s recent batch of Alumni.

With many of our senior staff called away for board paper corrections and new teachers ready to join the Shishuvan family only in June, Principal Shubadra Shenoy realised that there were some gaps in the staff needs that required temporary filling.

In a case of great minds thinking alike, Shubadra and Mini Panikar (Head of Subject, English) both simultaneously came up with the  idea of calling upon our freshly minted Alumni to step in and help the school out.

Once the school reached out to a few students asking for their help, news spread and before they knew it Mini and Shubadra found ex-students lining up and volunteering their help.

“Our alumni has been really pro-active. Many of them stepped forward and offered to teach, they’ve even formed their own Whatsapp group to share information and scheduling.” says Mini.

Once the school had their young staff in place, Shubadra conducted a Lesson Planning orientation for them “It was amazing to see their zeal. It’s wonderful watching them take what we’ve told them and start putting their thoughts and ideas for lesson planning down.”

I got to sit in on a few of the classes our Alumni took last week in the High School, and I was so impressed with their confidence and maturity.

Ashna and Chaitree took an EVS class on Resource Depletion for High School, and as they went through the lesson, they frequently paused to ask questions and made sure that everyone got the chance to share their opinion. The teachers also used their perspective gained from the recent board exams to talk to the students about important areas they needed to focus on an what kind of answers they would need to provide.

I spoke to Ashna and Chaitree later about the experience.

“The students have been really good to us so far… no one  troubled us too much, except may be in one or two lessons. But we deserve that, because we’ve really troubled our teachers too.” said Ashna.

I asked Chaitree who is contemplating teaching as a profession, why she volunteered “I was bored sitting at home and this seemed like fun.”

Dhairya Shah and Ansh  took their Geography lessons for classes IX and X seriously too and made sure that the students had no doubts on the topic being covered. It was also a chance to see the peer-to-peer learning at play. When some students had queries or questions, other children offered explanations.

It was wonderful to see was that our former students offered their help immediately and with an infectious enthusiasm. But what really struck me is that these children have truly learnt that at Shishuvan, everyone is both a learner and teacher.


Working towards a Zero Traffic Lane


It’s the start of a new academic year at Shishuvan and there are plenty of things to look forward to in the next 12 months: new initiatives, new partnerships and new ideas.

Shishuvan has kicked off the New Year by launching the ‘Shishuvan: Zero Traffic Lane’ Campaign. The Transport Committee and School Leadership have been tirelessly working behind the scenes, working out the logistics of the initiative and coming up with best practices to make the process smooth for all those involved.

Many parents are wondering “What is Zero Traffic?”  “Why do we need a zero traffic policy?” and “Why now?”

A Zero Traffic Policy champions the use of public transport, school approved bus photo 1 photo 2 photo 4


Students of Standard X drawing posters for the Zero Traffic Lane Campaign

Students of Standard X drawing posters for the Zero Traffic Lane Campaign

services or good, old fashioned walking. Under a Zero Traffic Policy private vehicles and vans are discouraged.

Why do we need a Zero Traffic Policy?

With the increase in the number of vehicles on the roads today pollution levels have sky rocketed. A Zero Traffic Policy is kinder to the environment, and ensures that the school’s carbon foot print is reduced – not to mention your own. By ensuring that students use public transport or school sanctioned bus service, we’re helping bring down noise pollution levels and reducing emission levels in the neighbourhood. This is also an important lesson we’re passing on to our children. A zero traffic policy inculcates discipline in our children regarding civic sense. Remember that children will do as we do, not as we say. It’s one thing to talk about caring for the planet and another thing to do it.

A zero traffic policy also shows consideration to those we co-exist with – our neighbours. As you know, Shishuvan is in a residential area, and the constant flow of private cars, vans and two wheelers clog the residential lanes and creates bottlenecks making life difficult for those who live around us. Our neighbours may be happy to put up with the commotion and noise our children make on the playground and during the School Fair, but it’s unfair to expect them to tolerate the traffic and noise our private vehicles cause 3 times a day. Just put yourself in their shoes (and homes!) for a minute and see how you would feel if you were besieged by so much traffic.

Here are some letters of appreciation that our Executive Director Neha Chheda has received from residents of  Shradhanand Road.


On behalf of the residents of Shradhanand Road and the neighbouring bylanes I would like to take this opportunity to thank you very much on your initiative to streamline traffic congestion around the school during peak hours

We sincerely look forward to closer co-operation.

Kind regards,

A resident, Vedanta, Shradhanand Road,

Matunga, Mumbai 19.


“Dear Mrs. Neha Chedda,


Hope this mail finds you in great health and hope the school is doing well…  i just want to take the opportunity to thank you on your initiative in streamlining traffic around the school during school peak hours for Shradhanand Rd., and the remaining bylanes.


We sincerely look forward to closer co-operation.


Thank you,


Warm Regards

A resident,

 Bhakta Nivas, Shradhanand Rd.,

Matunta (E), Mumbai 400019″


Dear Madam/Sir,

                            Our family, among many of the families residing on Shradhanand Road, thank you very much for taking our request into consideration for blocking the traffic to the end of the lane. We are very grateful for this gesture.


Yours sincerely,

A resident, 

Nirmal Building,

Shradhanand Raod, 

Matunga (CR),

Mumbai – 400019.


Parents are discovering the upside of Zero Traffic Policy too. Manish Kamdar, whose daughter Kavya is a student of Standard IV writes about it on his blog.

“What was new about today? For starters, no cars allowed for drops at the school gate and they enforced it very well too. Their former principal and now executive director of the school was standing there on the road and ensured the rules weren’t broken.

This was a good opportunity for me as I have always enjoyed walking with Kavya and talking along the way. Today I told her how I was cycling up on a particular bridge and found the going tough. How it could hear her say “Come on papa you can do it” mentally and that helped me get over the hurdle. In a way this is good for us as Kavya gets ready early and reaches on time. I have a set time to return home from cycling which means I must leave on time too. All in all talk of the domino effect and we are experiencing it.

Thank you Shishuvan. Thanks to this simple rule, Kavya and me get to spend quality time together.”

 Lastly, here are some important things to keep in mind.

·      The students travelling to school who are not on the school bus, must come to school walking from Ambedkar Road or from Bhaudaji Road.

·      Non bus parents will cooperate with us by ensuring that they do not bring in the vehicles in the lanes.

·      They will park their vehicles on these roads and walk with their children to school.

·      The intersection roads at the school will be manned by a school person, so that older students can safely walk.

·      Non bus parents must pick their children from school on show of I.D. cards. Private van operators will not be allowed inside the school premises to pick up the students.

Above all it’s important to remember that The Zero Traffic Lane Campaign has been launched to ensure that the safety and security of our children are placed above anything else.

To paraphrase Theodore Roosevelt “Nothing in the world is worth having or doing unless it means effort”. We understand that this campaign won’t have a few speedbreakers and bumps along the way, but with your support we can overcome them.