The Action Hero!
– Shalaka Nalawad

Tags: Aakash Shah , Action for Pune Development

Aakash Shah tells Shalaka Nalawade about his NPO, Action for
Pune Development, and how he made a world record
If you happen to come across Aakash Shah on the road, chances
are you will dismiss him as just another teenager. But what if we
tell you that this 17 year old has just made a world record by
establishing a Non-Profit Organisation (NPO), Action for Pune
Development (APD), under his own steam? You’ll be amazed,
wouldn’t you?
“It’s actually my father Yogesh Shah and grandpa Ramesh Shah
who inspired me to take up social work. I grew up watching them
work for the community and I thought I should do the same,”
Aakash says, explaining his urge to do his bit for society. That
was what led to the establishment of APD. “During the summer
vacation after standard X, I decided to take along some friends
from my school and start an organisation to help people around
me. That’s how we started APD.”
The funny part is Aakash’s parents were away when APD
organised its first activity. “Our first activity was to plant 120
saplings on Vetal tekdi. We just went and did it. None of the
parents knew what we were doing until it was published in a
newspaper, along with our names. Even today, our parents know
very little about the activities we take up. We try to work on our
own,” Aakash informs.
Within a year of its establishment, APD has undertaken several
activities. One of them was the Helmet Awareness Programme
that gave a huge boost to APD. “After our first activity, we
decided to do something more engaging. We conducted the
Helmet Awareness Programme along with the Pune Traffic
Police,” he says. APD asked veteran cartoonist Mangesh
Tendulkar to draw a cartoon to create helmet awareness in the
city. “The cartoon posters were than placed at strategic locations
in the city, including Swargate Chowk, University Circle, Alka
Talkies Chowk, Nal Stop, Goodluck Cafe Chowk and Khandoji
Baba Chowk. We also divided ourselves into groups and
distributed pamphlets to create road safety awareness at these
locations,” he adds.
The most successful activity by APD is Trekoletic. “We wanted to
work for the welfare of children from rural areas. We organised a
cross-country race and raised around Rs 20,000, which we
donated to Unicef,” he says.
APD is a completely student-driven NPO. “We don’t have any
criterion for our members, just that they should be below 17
years of age and must be willing to work for our society. The
membership fee is minimal, just Rs 50 per month and we meet
every fortnight,” he explains. Most of the activities are carried out
from funds received in cash from the members’ parents or the
membership fees. “We plan our activities on weekends and public
holidays so as to accommodate study time,” Aakash explains.
Aakash’s enthusiasm was highly appreciated by his father who
suggested that he apply for a world record. “He asked me to
approach several organisations that certify world records. The first
one to certify the record was the Golden Book of World Records.
The certificate from the organisation says that Aakash is the
youngest to establish an NPO at 15 years of age. We received
confirmation from the Limca Book of World Records and the
Guinness Book of World Records as well,” he smiles.
APD also has another activity coming up on June 18, 19 and 20.
“Under the guidance of Vandana Chavan, we are going to teach
self-defence techniques to the girls of Priyadarshani School,” he
signs off. We wish him luck.
Source: Sakal times