Rotary International honors People of Action: Champions of Impact

Rita Aggarwal from Nagpur, India among the six recognised globally for their contribution in Rotary’s areas of focus, including fighting disease, growing local economies, protecting the environment and promoting mental health through community-led initiatives

Nagpur, 11 March 2024 – Rotary International, one of the largest volunteer-led, non-profit organizations, committed to delivering impactful and lasting solutions to the most-pressing humanitarian challenges, is recognizing volunteers working on issues related to promoting mental health and helping indigenous young people increase their economic opportunities.

Rita Aggarwal from Rotary Club of Nagpur, Maharashtra, is one of the six global Rotary People of Action: Champions of Impact who has been honored for her efforts to address mental health literacy in India.

Since 1992, Rita has devoted herself to the mental health needs of young students in the country. She served as the Project Chair for her initiative- ‘Wellness in a Box’ and supported a high number of students who showed signs of anxiety, depression, and other psychological problems in their struggle. ‘Wellness in a Box’’ is part of The Mental Health Initiatives Rotary Action Group which has also created curriculums for 14-year-olds to strengthen awareness on depression while providing coping solutions to overcome the stigma surrounding mental health. The programme also educates teachers in counselling skills and has established sites for facilitating fieldwork.

“The main objective of Project ‘Wellness in a Box’ is bringing a change in the existing mindsets by creating awareness and building a curriculum for training students, parents and teachers to counter the stigma that surrounds mental health. To date, our initiative has trained 2200+ students and 2000 parents and faculty members in the “Break Free from Depression” curriculum. We must continue to break this unspoken barrier and motivate everyone to talk about their mental health, so that children aren’t disqualified from getting help.” Rita said, crediting the success of the program to her entire team.

“Our honorees have taken extraordinary steps to have a positive impact on the lives of individuals, communities or systems,” said Rotary International President Gordon R. McInally. “An investment in mental health and environment initiatives upholds our human rights and promises a more equitable and prosperous future. This is more than just a one-year commitment from our organization, it is ingrained in our values.”

In India nearly 50 million children suffer from mental disorders.[1] According to The State of the World’s Children 2021 survey, around 14 per cent of 15 to 24-year-olds in India, or 1 in 7, report experiencing depression or having minimum interest in doing regular activities as part of their lives.[2]

Rotary members develop and implement sustainable projects that fight disease, promote peace, provide clean water, support education, save mothers and children, grow local economies and protect the environment. Over $5.3 billion has been awarded through The Rotary Foundation to support these programs worldwide.

About Rotary: Rotary brings together a global network of volunteer leaders dedicated to tackling the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges. Rotary connects 1.4 million members in over 200 countries and geographical areas. Their work improves lives at both the local and international levels, from helping those in need in their own communities to working toward a polio-free world. For more information, visit Rotary.org.

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