News & Events

A tour of Chennai
48 students from our programs had the most memorable time when they visited Chennai on Jan. 3rd and 4th. They marvelled at the Shore Temple and Tiger Caves in Mahabalipuram and the Santhome Lighthouse & Museum, which offered a splendid bird’s eye view of Chennai. Star gazing at the Birla Planetarium & Science Park was fun, followed by an informative & inspiring talk & tour of the IIT Madras Campus by Selva Ganapathy, Staff at the Chemical Engineering Department. The final destination was the Snake Park at Guindy. The highlight for children was their quality time with several patrons of Aspire Foundation, who hosted them at their homes and spent time taking them to shopping malls, the beach, the movies, library, circus and restaurants - it was an experience they will never forget. Delicious lunch on both days was sponsored by the Rotary Club of Chennai Towers. Aspire Foundation thanks all our generous donors and hosts who made this tour possible.

Excursion to Kerala
43 students spent the weekend after Christmas touring Nagercoil & Thiruvananthapuram. Some of the interesting spots they visited were the Kovalam Beach, the Thiruvananthapuram Zoo, Thiruparappu Waterfall, Thottipalam and Padmanabhapuram Palace. They also visited temples of historical importance and heritage, such as Attukkaalamman Koil, Suchindram & Nellyappar Koil.

Aspire Foundation is extremely thankful to Ms. Lakshmy Ashok for sponsoring our students' accommodation and food at the Base Camp, Alancholai.

Story writing contest to celebrate Children's Day
This Children's Day, we involved children in one of their favourite pastimes, creating their own stories! For a week leading up to the contest, 360 students from 21 villages participated in writing stories and drawing creative illustrations suited to their stories, working in pairs. The best story from each village was selected and the finalists participated in a workshop on creative writing and drawing, conducted by Mr. Siva, pursuing his Ph. D. at Gandhigram Rural University.Following this workshop, the 29 pairs of finalists created their best stories. All finalists were given dictionaries and the creators of the 2 winning stories were awarded medals.

Deepavali Celebrations
This Deepavali, several patrons shared their festive joy with Aspire Foundation students by gifting new clothes for Deepavali. On Oct. 18th, 200 studentsreceived their new clothes with bright smiles and wore them happily the week after. Well-wishers such as school teachers, retired headmasters and other volunteers distributed these materials to our students.

Field trip to Coimbatore

21 students went on a field trip to Coimbatore during Nov. 2014. They visited the Bharathiyar University, which has over 14 departments including Biotechnology & Genetic Engineering, Social Sciences, English & Foreign Languages, besides Commerce, Science and Engineering. Students visited the various types of gardens set up by the Botany Department and understood the types of plants. The group also trekked up Marudhamalai and visited the famous temple there.

Introductory Course to Chess and Painting

During the quarterly exam holidays, we organized two 5-day courses, one on chess and the other on painting – about 35 interested students registered for each course.

The course on chess was conducted by Mr. Pitchaimani, Chess Coach and Tamil Nadu State Chess Arbiter from Fischer Chess Academy at Gandhigram. He introduced 35 students to the concept of chess, including the names of the squares, pieces and rules of movement. Children were taught basic techniques in playing chess and at the end of the course, the coach provided a list of students with aptitude for chess. We plan to conduct a second level course for these students later in the year.

Ms. Selvi, certified trainer in art & craft from Chinnalapatty conducted a5-day course, training 45 students on techniques in cloth painting and chart painting. Children had a great time trying their creativity at various forms of painting– they traced and painted flowers, scenery & idols. They also learned to decorate sketches with sand, seeds and pulses. The trainer identified over 20 children who were eligible to take up the next level course.

Health awareness program

On Sep. 28th, 108 students participated in a health awareness program conducted by Dr. Satish Kumar, Child Specialist from DMS Hospital, Nilakottai.He took our students through an overview of the brain and it functions, emphasizing the different regions responsible for different functions, cognition and abilities. He also enlightened students about the common diseases that affect every organ in the body and simple lifestyle practices & habits which can help maintain good health.

He specifically counselled girls on lifestyle practices as well as nutritious diet required for them to be healthy mothers in future.

Independence Day celebrations
Students and staff at Aspire Foundation celebrated India's 68th Independence Day with a difference. We began with the hoisting of the Indian Tricolour and a March past. Following this were 3 sets of programs (1) Exhibition and presentation by scholarship students - stalls highlighting India's current status in Education, Agriculture & Sports, ISRO, Wind energy, Rubber production and Women achievers, Types of lighting used in India over the last century, Launch of a model rocket, Poetry recital (2) Performance by Village Learning Centre students - enactment of scenes related to a few important South Indian freedom fighters - VeerapandiaKattabomman, VO Chidambaram Pillai & Velu Nachiyar, Villupaattu and Photo cum news exhibition related to freedom fighters and (3) Performance of folk dance and music by students' club members - Bharatham, Oyilaattam, Kootthu, Devaraattam, Karakaattam and Thappaattam.

Field trip to Madurai
22 students participated in the field trip to Madurai.At the Thirumalainayakar mahal, students saw several archaeological monuments and made note of historical information. At the Aavin milk industry, students witnessed automated food processing and packaging of packet milk, ghee, palgova, butter and milk powder.Students finally visited the Azhagar Temple, a waterfall abounding in herbal plants and Pazhamuthirsolai. This was an informative and enjoyable field trip for our students.

A unique adventure sport experience at Base Camp

36 students accompanied by 4 tutors participated in the 2-day adventure sports camp at the Base Camp in Alancholai, Kanyakumari District on May 24th& 25th.

The children were thrilled with their tent accommodation. The first day, our students got to try out beginner level rock climbing, rappelling and rope activities such as Burma Bridge walk, River crossing and Commando Bridge walk.Students also got to trek up a hillock where they enjoyed a lively Antakshari session with their friends around a cozy campfire.

The next day, the camp managers took students to Chittaar Dam where they spent 2 hours frolicking in the cool water! Then, at the runner estate, the children were given a detailed explanation on planting, latex collection and sale of rubber.That evening, they spent an hour at the Kanyakumari beach, marvelling at the sunset, had dinner and returned to Nilakottai past midnight.

The hospitality extended by the managers of Base Camp and Anantya Resort as well as Ms. Lakshmy Ashok, who sponsored the entire stay and camp experience for Aspire students deserves special mention. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

Launching the 10th batch of Aspire scholars
2014-'15 marks the start of the 10th academic year since Aspire Foundation's inception. On June 14th, we flagged off the 10th batch of Aspire scholarship students, numbering 175. Starting with 16 students in 2005, it was a moving moment to see the hall filled with 175 students and their parents, all eager for a new experience.



Program highlights

  • Brief about Aspire Foundation's vision by Parvathy, Managing Trustee Guests of honour - teachers from 2 neighbouring Government Schools and Tamilselvi Sundar Raj, an Aspire well-wisher.
  • Game to highlight the importance of interaction between children and their parents, with a prize awarded to the winning pair.
  • Recognition of Vijayakumar and Yazhini, top scorers in the Std. 10 Board exams, with a score of 472 on 500.
  • Distribution of notebooks, stationery, bags and uniforms to students. The Aspire team is extremely thankful to employees of Sundaram BNP Paribas Fund Services, who, for the second year in a row, have been contributing towards students' school supplies. This year, we provided bags, notebooks and stationery for our students, thanks to this donation.
  • Experience sharing by alumnus, Chandran who after completing Std. 12 is now doing a diploma course.
  • Experience sharing by Ms.Sundari, mother of Balamani, our alumnus who is now doing under graduation.
  • Vote of thanks by KathiresanPrabu, Trustee

More Photos:

68th Independence Day celebrations
Students and staff at Aspire Foundation celebrated India's 68th Independence Day with a difference. We began with the hoisting of the Indian Tricolour and a March past. Following this were 3 sets of programs (1) Exhibition and presentation by scholarship students - stalls highlighting India's current status in Education, Agriculture & Sports, ISRO, Wind energy, Rubber production and Women achievers, Types of lighting used in India over the last century, Launch of a model rocket, Poetry recital (2) Performance by Village Learning Centre students - enactment of scenes related to a few important South Indian freedom fighters - VeerapandiaKattabomman, VO Chidambaram Pillai&VeluNachiyar, Villupaattu and Photo cum news exhibition related to freedom fighters (3) Performance of folk dance and music by students' club members - Bharatham, Oyilaattam, Kootthu, Devaraattam, Karakaattam and Thappaattam.

More Photos:

Excitement was on a high during our excursion held on Dec. 25th& 26th this year. 61 students and 7 staff members spent 2 days touring Thanjavur, Velankanni, Pondicherry and Auroville. The highlight venues were the Brihadeeswara Temple, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the Punnainallur Mariamman temple, the Thanjavur Maratha Palace, the Velankanni Church and the Nagore Dargah. Children had a great time frolicking in the beachat Pondicherry. They also enjoyed the long picturesque and serene walk to the Matrimandir at Auroville. They were enthralled by the golden globe of the temple and the beauty of the age-old banyan tree with its immense canopy.

As part of Navarasa 2013, a 3-day fest commemorating art and culture in Chennai, Aspire Foundation was one of the beneficiaries of the Y. Gee. Mahendra drama, ‘Irandam Ragasiyam’ held on 4th October 2013 at Sivagami Petachi Auditorium, Mylapore. The drama was entertaining with a social message and the event provided a useful platform for Aspire Foundation to reach out to a new audience.



Health program
This program was conducted on 27th September 2013. Mr. Nagasundaram educated students about eye care and exercises for longevity of good eye vision.He also spoke about the symptoms, treatment and prevention of TB and Leprosy.Mr. Arulmani, Block Health Supervisor, Nilakottai talked about prevention, unique symptoms and treatment of typhoid fever. Mr. Sahayaraj from the Government Hospital at Ammayanayakanur explained the seriousness of dog bites and its treatment. He also counseled children on the role of hygiene and cleanliness in prevention of infection and diseases. Students interacted with these experienced resource persons and got their doubts clarified.

Science workshop
103 students participated in the science workshop held on 22nd September 2013. Mr. Ramamoorthy, Cultural Development Officer in a reputed company demonstrated and explained 16 experiments. These experiments covered the following concepts – endothermic and exothermic reactions, chemical reactions, centrifugal force, surface tension and other concepts covered in high school science. He also demonstrated the process of manufacturing a mosquito coil and the technique used to join fractured bones. Students asked several questions and tried out experiments in groups/pairs.

Computer awareness program
This program conducted on 22nd September 2013 saw participation from 104 students.Mr. Shanmugakumar, Assistant Professor at GTN Arts College, Dindigul, explained the basics of a computer and its parts, with a visual display. He also talked about defects in a computer and its impact during computer operation.Mr. Infant Arokiyaraj, Senior Java programmer from Bangalore involved students in activities to improve their concentration power. He demonstrated multi-tasking and multi programming. He also explained regarding the software used in a basic mobile as well as a PC Tablet and the usage. He gave students tips on entering and sustain in the IT field. Students enjoyed his interactive session. Mr. Prabhakaran, freelance consultant conducted the concluding session with an introduction to the Internet and listing out of specific websites useful for students.

Independence Day celebrations
Residents of Seethapuram, an educationally backward village in Nilakottai Taluk normally celebrate only their ‘Oor Thiruvizha’ with zest every year. This year, thanks to the involvement of scholarship students, the village wore a festive look during Independence Day, commemorating India’s 67th year since Independence. Students went around pinning the Indian flag on all the residents, who greeted them with a surprised smile. Following this, villagers go together to listen to children’s narratives about great national leaders and the national anthem.

Material distribution and parents’ meeting
The first program commemorating the start of the academic year for Aspire Foundation students, namely the orientation to the scholarship program for parents and students was conducted on 22nd June 2013. This program marked the beginning of the 9th year of Aspire Foundation’s scholarship program.The number of Aspire scholars selected for this year was 175. Mr. Dhanasekaran, Block Development Officer, Nilakottai presided as Chief Guest – he applauded Aspire Foundation’s efforts and exhorted students as well as parents to make use of these services. He also appealed to AF to guide students to become entrepreneurs. Following this was prize distribution to students in Classes 10 and 12 who secured top ranks in the Board exam.

This year too, as is done every year, we distributed school supplies to students during this program. But there was something which made this more special and memorable for students. 2 weeks prior to this program, representatives from the social club at Sundaram BNP Paribas Ltd. mobilized small contributions from their colleagues, which finally added up to about Rs. 40,000. They used this to purchase school supplies such as notebooks and stationery for all 175 students in the scholarship program. An added highlight was the presence of 5 social club members, who travelled to Nilakottai, interacted with our students and distributed these materials.

Adventure Sports at Base Camp
This summer, a unique opportunity presented itself to Aspire students. We got a generous offer from Base Camp, Alancholai in Kanyakumari District to participate in a 2-day adventure sports program, completely sponsored by them.

This trip on May 18th& 19thproved to be an out-of-the-world experience for 38 scholarship students who were selected for this program. Students’ excitement knew no bounds when they realized they were going to be staying in groups of 3 in tents for the first time in their lives!

On the first day, students were divided into 2 teams and engaged in challenging rope-based activities such as River Cross, Burma Bridge, Commando Bridge, Swing Valley and Mountain Cross. For all students, this was a thrilling first-time experience. For girls, it was even more so! That night, a camp fire was organized and children were engaged in music and dance.

On the second day, all students were taken on a 6 km trek up a hill. Our students, accustomed to long walks and climbs found this enjoyable. This was followed by a games and activities session organized by the camp team.

Then the group spent some time at the Kanyakumari beach before returning to Nilakottai. We are extremely grateful to Ms. Lakshmy Ashok for providing this opportunity and Mr. Anil, the Manager at the camp who took great care of the Aspire students for 2 days.

Career guidance
We took 18 students from Classes 11 & 12 to the career guidance program organized by Dinamalar and Nehru Groups in Dindigul. Students got information on courses such as bio – technology, forestry, environment, bio engineering and medicine, colleges which offer these courses and related employment opportunities. Students also learned about aeronautical courses and related branches, as well as organizations which need scientists in this branch. Counselors provided information on cut-off marks and encouraged students to appear for engineering counseling without fear.HR experts talked about the essential attributes that multinational companies look for and provided tips on facing interviews. Students found this session useful and relevant as they got a lot of new information.

Field trips

Solar Observatory, Kodaikanal - On 11th August 2013, 34 students went on a field trip to Kodaikanal. The main visit site was the Solar Observatory at the Indian Institute of Astrophysics. At the observatory point, the Institute’s resource person explained in detail the effects of sunspots on surface temperatures. He responded to the questions posed by our students and commended their curiosity and eagerness to learn. Students also visited the Silver Cascade Waterfall, the Bryant Park and walked around the lake in Kodaikanal.

Parle-G Biscuit Factory and M.K. University, Madurai - On 10th August 2013, 35 students from the new batch selected this year visited the Parle-G Biscuit Factory. At the factory, an official explained the variety of products manufactured by Parle-G. He took our students to the manufacturing section and explained the processes and equipment involved in making biscuits. Soon after, students visited the Madura Kamaraj University campus. They got first-hand information on the courses offered, eligibility criteria and fee structure. The group also visited Keezhakuyilkudi Sammanar Padiugai, a historic site near Madurai. Here, they saw a cave with information conveyed in archaic scripts and some sculptures.

Vaigai Dam and Suruli Waterfall - 45 studentsin the new student batch visited SuruliWaterfall near Theni. They trekked through a forest rich in medicinal plants, sharing and comparing their knowledge about the plant species and uses. They also visited a nearby temple.

At Vaigai Dam, students got a chance to understand the process of electricity generation using the Hydro power plant. They learned about the origin of the Vaigai river, its course and and the districts benefitting from its water. Students were very interested in knowing when and how the dam was constructed. They also saw the watershed model exhibit.