In Kerala, a help desk by the children for the children


Trained students of Kutty Desk interact with their peers, and parents, helping them keep pandemic blues at bay

Reaching out over phone to over 30,000 little-known peers locked up in homes during pandemic times is no child’s play.

That is exactly what 245 trained students from Class VIII to Class XII did during the last academic year under Kutty Desk, a novel initiative of Our Responsibility to Children (ORC) under the Department of Women and Child Development. The ORC, which is meant for the early identification and prevention of issues faced by children, has been scaled up from 320 to 356 schools across the State from this year.

How it works

“We gave psychological training to a pool of students with leadership qualities, educating them on how to make comforting calls in compliance with a set of guidelines. The nodal teachers of ORC then provided them a bunch of contact numbers of students. The calls were recorded to ensure that they stuck to the guidelines,” said Arya R. Chandra, State Programme Officer, ORC.

The callers mainly inquired after the well-being of students and their families and shared helpline numbers including that of Childline, Chiri, a child-specific initiative of Kerala Police, and Disha. Kutty Desk, effectively, served as a help desk by the children for the children.

However, they also interacted with parents helping them identify the problems of their children and seek appropriate assistance. They also shared the number of the ORC district project assistants for follow-up assistance.

The feedback from the calls were shared with the school-level ORC nodal teachers who either made available the service of the seven ORC psychologists across the State or referred them to other similar services like Chiri.

A clamour for more

“So effective has been the system that there is a clamour from teachers and parents alike to continue it this year as well. While many of the trained students from last year have passed out, those still interested in associating with Kutty Desk are being retained as mentors to the newly engaged ones. We may enlist 10-20 students from each district for the programme this year,” said Ms. Chandra

Since children are by now familiar with the pandemic and its protocol, the focus this time would be on keeping them entertained and engaging them in activities to reduce their stress and keep at bay unwanted thoughts.



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