From Bangalore to BGR: Nonprofit 8Culture Donates Sports Equipment to Youth on Both Sides of the World
By Valerie Dowret
Above: BGR staff and Ryan Vig (second from right) show off the winning 8Culture T-shirt designs.
Boys and Girls Republic (BGR)—Henry Street’s youth community center on East Sixth Street, received 30 new pieces of sports equipment in February through a donation from Ryan Vig, the 16-year-old founder of the charity 8Culture. After-school participants at BGR are already using the footballs, basketball nets, blocking pads, medicine balls, and other supplies.
Vig started 8Culture while living in India, having observed the disparity between his own life and those of the children in the orphanages of Bangalore. Rather than just watching these local kids struggle, Vig decided to help. As an athlete himself, he decided the best way for him to contribute was to fundraise for sports equipment. To raise the money, he designed T-shirts featuring aspects of local culture and sold them.
“I quickly realized the huge impact the equipment had, giving the kids the opportunity to play sports and have fun, but more importantly improving their lives and future,” Vig says.
“Many orphanages in India are day schools. Kids come and go at their own will,” Vig adds. “Only kids who were in school during the day were permitted to participate in sports programs. So, the sports equipment we donated and the programs that were set up incentivized kids to come to school and stay the whole day.”
The students at BGR also show staff that they are maintaining their grades before they can be registered for sports programs. In addition to sports and recreation, BGR provides about 150 local children with high-quality after-school programming that includes art, tutoring, dance, and a unique self-government program in which children learn about citizenship, are elected into a model government, assuming positions such as mayor and city council member.
Vig learned about BGR through his father, Rajan Vig, managing director at Credit Suisse, a company that has participated extensively in Henry Street volunteer activities.
After moving back to New York City, Vig decided to continue 8Culture’s charitable activities locally. The donation of sports equipment was not its only contribution to Henry Street Settlement: in March, Vig led a T-shirt design project with BGR middle schoolers; each participant was asked to make a design that related to their idea of culture or the number eight. After students competed for the best three designs, 8Culture had the designs professionally transferred to T-shirts. Winning designs included a Dominican flag with a mango, a Disney-inspired dinosaur, and the numeral eight rendered as treble clef.
Vig will continue his cultural learning partnership with Henry Street Settlement. In July, BGR participants will learn from Vig how to play Carom Board, a popular game in India played on a square board and similar to pool.