Ismailis from across North America gathered in Chicago over the 2014 Labour Day weekend for the first ever North American Ismaili Games. Akber Dewji

Over Labour Day weekend in early September, more than 2 500 athletes, spectators and volunteers attended the first ever North American Ismaili Games in Chicago. While there were individual medal presentations and celebrations in every sport, the entire Jamat was the real winner.

Southeast men’s dance team, Nishani, is an example of the high calibre of competition at the North American Ismaili Games.

Chicago, 30 August 2014 – Two days into the North American Ismaili Games, the biggest draw so far has been the dance competition. Word spread quickly following an incredible set of performances on day one, and a crowd of over 800 spectators showed up for Saturday’s shows.

The North American Ismaili Games is the largest Ismaili sports event ever staged on the content.

Chicago, 28 August 2014 – This Labour Day weekend, Ismaili Muslims from across Canada and the United States will gather in Chicago for the inaugural North American Ismaili Games. An expected 1 300 athletes will compete in 12 sports, making the event the largest Ismaili sports tournament ever staged in North America.

High School students and their mentors who take part in the National College Expedition get to visit some of the world’s best schools in Boston.

The National College Expedition is an annual programme organised by AKEB USA for high school students in the USA, Canada, and France that empowers students to select the best colleges or universities in their areas of interest. The expedition takes students on campus tours in Boston, and familiarises them with the American college application process to help them make informed decisions.

Hussein Janmohamed (centre) in a pre-show huddle with members of the Canadian Ismaili Muslim Youth Choir at a performence in Edmonton.

Music has the power to transcend difference. Drawing upon heritage and tradition, it can inspire people to better appreciate and come to know one another. Speaking with Ambreen Delawalla and Sameera Gokal, Ismaili musicians shared stories from their own life journeys, and their encounters with faith and music.

Dr Nooredin Nurani (at the far left) and his team of dedicated volunteers offer free dental treatment at an annual event in Atlanta.

Described as grassroots because they are led by concerned citizens rather than governments or established institutions, such community action initiatives can be a powerful means in addressing difficult issues. Some Ismailis are successfully using grassroots action to magnify the impact of their volunteer work.

A still from the short feature “Split Screen: A Love Story”, produced by Kurban Kassam and winner of the 2011 Nokia Shorts Competition.

A handful of Ismaili innovators in the digital media space are applying their creativity to promote change. Using emerging technologies such as smartphone cameras and interactive social media, they are producing compelling visual stories, harnessing new market segments and carefully studying the impact on audiences.

Preparing to capture the Abidjan skyline as part of a documentary feature.

Artistic production – including folk theatre – was a component of early civilisations including Greek, Roman, and Vedic cultures. In modern times, visual production is intertwined with far-reaching broadcast and social technologies. Hanif Kanji looks at a group of passionate Ismaili producers who use diverse media to influence social attitudes.

The Ismaili Musical Ensemble performs a youth concert in the Social Hall of Houston Principal Jamat Khana and Center.

Ismaili Musical Ensembles in the USA and Canada provide creative platforms for dedicated Ismaili musicians to learn, practice and showcase their talents. But the musicians are required to demonstrate the quality of their abilities and commit to the ongoing development of their musical education.

A counselor helps participants tie-die shirts during a self-expression activity at an Ismaili summer camp.

Each year, many Ismaili youth from all over North America spend their summers at camps organised by the Jamati institutions. They learn about the importance of being responsible members of the society, compete at various sports and games and take on leadership roles – all while growing, discovering, playing, and making friends.

Champion debaters Iqbal Kassam, Shakir Rahim and Shama Barday argue that debating has improved their self-confidence, built their knowledge on a large variety of subjects, and equipped them with valuable tools for the future.

Good debaters are not only eloquent speakers but also quick thinkers who can mould, evolve and expand a concept in order to challenge their opponent. Three North American Ismailis with a record of outshining the competition in the debating arena at state, provincial, national, and international levels, describe how the ability to intelligently dispute an argument has helped them succeed in other aspects of their lives.

Mass media plays a crucial role in forming and capturing public opinion, and in shaping the perceptions of society at large. As more Ismailis emerge into the global media scene, a few from North America share insights into the responsibilities and challenges that are integral to their work.

A number of Ismaili women are courageously taking the initiative to pave the way for the empowerment of the underprivileged, of which women and girls constitute a substantial portion.

A number of Ismaili women have devoted their careers to elevating the status of women – particularly those who are disadvantaged – by improving the quality of their lives and those amongst whom they live in communities across the globe. By leveraging their own potential and fulfilling a desire to make a difference, they are providing inspiration for others to follow their lead.

Jamati volunteers and representatives from AKF USA and FOCUS North America gather with Prince Hussain, Governor Schwarzenegger and his wife in front of the AKDN information booth at the Governors’ Global Climate Summit 3, which was hosted at the Universit

Last week, Prince Hussain attended the Governors’ Global Climate Summit 3 in the United States on behalf of the Aga Khan Development Network, at Mawlana Hazar Imam’s request. Co-hosted by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Governors of Washington, Oregon, Wisconsin and Michigan, the conference counted the AKDN among its major sponsors for the third consecutive year.

Puffins breed in large colonies on coastal cliffs and islands. Together with other seabirds, they are threatened by habitat destruction due to climate change and pollution.

A group of proactive Ismailis are applying their innovative prowess to counter the spectre of climate change and ecological devastation. Inspired by Islam’s ethic of caring for the environment, they are doing their part to preserve and safeguard nature’s precious resources in order to sustain social and economic development.

In Primary Two, Hoopoe, the bird of wisdom, takes children on a journey into the past. Here Hoopoe introduces the Fatimid city of Cairo.

Two decades after the introduction of the Ta‘lim curriculum, primary teacher education programmes have increased the effectiveness of teaching and learning at Ismaili religious education centres. Through a modern approach to education, children learn about Islam both as a faith and through its role in shaping Muslim civilisations.

Little toddlers meet and make friends on the first day of school.

Numerous studies have shown that proper care in the early years of childhood is essential to academic success. Birth to age six is a time of intense brain development; therefore, choosing a quality child care programme that caters to the child’s developmental needs should be a top priority for parents.

More than $2 billion in private scholarships are available each year to deserving students for filling out some paperwork, writing an essay or two and occasionally being interviewed in person or over the phone.

Each year, companies and charities offer more than $2 billion in private scholarships, which, in addition to being an attractive form of education financing, are also a prestigious form of recognition. But many scholarships go unfulfilled because nobody applies for them. Three students share tips from their scholarship successes.

A Red Cross “ready to go” emergency preparedness kit and its contents.

To better equip the community to deal with emergencies, Focus Humanitarian Assistance has been running “Disaster Preparedness Weeks” in partnership with National Ismaili Councils around the world. During the week, practical tips and resources are shared with families to raise awareness of the regional risks and how to prepare for them.

Michael Kahlenberg leads FOCUS Regional Disaster Managers on a tour of the Emergency Operations Center at the Harris County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management in Houston.

Earlier this year, Focus Humanitarian Assistance in North America conducted disaster management and leadership training in Houston and Toronto, for their Regional Disaster Management Teams. As a key component of the Disaster Management Programme, the training prepared community stakeholders to effectively respond to natural and man-made disasters.