Be The Change 2018


Work and life have provided me with opportunities to witness the incredible potential of the young, and yet each time I come across a new opportunity, I am amazed to witness it all over again. I find myself drawn to the incredible potential of the human spirit and to the contagious enthusiasm that people display, especially when inspired. And so for the 6thconsecutive year, I cancelled every other appointment, and rushed to be part of Design For Change, Singapore’s Be The Change Celebration (BTC). This event was held on the sunny morning of 12thNovember 2018.

For those who haven’t heard of it before, DESIGN FOR CHANGE is the largest global movement that gives the children opportunity of expressing their ideas for a better world. Oh, and they don’t stop at just expressing their ideas, they put it in to action too. This global movement has inspired thousands of children to discover that change is possible and that they can lead and inspire this change themselves.

BTC 2018 was held at an auditorium at the SMU campus. As I stood at the bottom of this auditorium, I witnessed the beaming faces of students from 26 schools.  In them I saw the future and I am glad to say that the future looks to be in good hands. I also saw the caretakers of this future, the teachers and the parents who were proud to have accompanied these young change makers.

D8498A9F-B84B-434B-8852-5643D4A65598As the emcees cheerfully navigated us through the programme, the enthusiastic crowd chanted encouragements, played interactive games, joined the flash dance and some of them confidently marched up on the stage to receive awards.

 

It was celebratory indeed! These students from various schools in Singapore had followed the Design Thinking process to make a difference to the world around them. Overall, 17 schools presented their projects.

Though every attempt needs applause and every child is a hero, here are few of the projects that were chosen by the jury.

School                                                                             Project

South View Primary School Making A Difference with the SPCA
Holy Innocents Primary School Stars in Action (Project Smile to Children’s Home)
Yio Chu Kang Primary School Blind spot
Global Indian International School Beat Plastic Pollution
Keming Primary School See Well & Don’t Fall
ANDERSON SECONDARY SCHOOL Our Upcycling Project: “Transform trash to treasures”
WESTWOOD SECONDARY SCHOOL Virtual Reality: Balik Kampung Project (Back to Good Old Days)
WESTWOOD SECONDARY SCHOOL Eco Flowering Filtration Pot System
Overseas Family School Windows to education: Social Entrepreneurship project for underprivileged children in Nepal
Riverside Secondary School A Conversation with Migrant Workers
TANGLIN SECONDARY SCHOOL Tackling Gender Stereotyping in the Classroom

I was duly infected by the enthusiasm that was palpable in the auditorium that day. Many congratulations to DFC Founder, Madhu Verma and the team for another successful event! This incredible event shall return next year with the belief that we can be the change that we want to see in this world. This volunteer shall return too. Till then, keep believing in a better world!

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Yours truly with Madhu Verma (Founder, DFC, Singapore & Founder, SoCh in Action)

 

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Be the change


Mahatma Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see in the world”. It’s a powerful thought but, unfortunately often forgotten.

We all desire a better society, a better country and a better world, so how do we achieve it? Why, by jumping in to make it better, of course! Hope you were not planning to delegate this bit of your responsibility. A better society is only possible if we stop complaining about what’s wrong and who’s wrong and instead, take ownership of our own actions. The buck stops here. We have got to be the change that we want to see in the world. If we change, so will the world and if we inspire and equip the next generation, then so will our future.

Needless to say, our future depends on what we do now and how we train the children of the world. ‘Exam- acers’, ‘trophy winners’, ‘fast texters’, ‘social -networkers’ and ‘Justin Beliebers’ are all fantastic but socially conscious, emotionally stable, secular, altruistic and responsible future- citizens are not just fantastic, they are imperative for a sustainable and safe future.

My work as an educator and as a volunteer with various NGOs exposed me to the potential of the young and I was amazed to discover endless possibilities of a child that could be brought to fruition with just a bit of adult support and encouragement. That’s when I realised that one of the greatest responsibilities of us adults, with a stake in the future, is to allow children to dream, encourage them to acquire the necessary skills and finally to empower them with the unshakable belief that ‘dreams are achievable’. Not just that, if we aspire to have a world that’s peaceful, beautiful and for that matter, still around, then we also have to  encourage the ‘little’ citizens of a family to accept differences, overcome mental barriers, cross religious and geographical boundaries and eventually become ‘citizens of the world’.

Getting in touch with Kiran happened at a time, when I was working with foster children and feeling the need to reach out to people who believed what I believed in, reiterated what I thought and marched ahead in spite of the countless difficulties. Finding her was momentous. My first sentence was a happy “Where were you all this while?” It turns out that she was around for a long time, but simply not in my line of vision. Kiran Bir Sethi, a resident of Ahmedabad, India is the woman who founded ‘Design for Change’ movement. The movement has spread or as Kiran says, ‘infected people’ in more than 35 countries and for which she has received ‘The Rockefeller Foundations‘ Young Innovator Award’ (2012).

Kiran had started this global movement with a conviction that if children are empowered and made to feel that they can take matters into their hands, they will change the world for the better. Their motto is ‘Every Child can’ and I say “of course!”  Based on a simplified design thinking process, this initiative asks students to FEEL any problem that bother them, IMAGINE a way to make it better, DO an act of change and SHARE their story of change with the world. Simple and yet effective.

Adopting ‘Design For Change’ in Singaporean context, is the organisation, SoCh in Action  (Social Change in Action), which believes that working with children can be an effective way to bring any change in our community, whether it’s a change in thought or in action. The Singapore based NGO organises a yearly event to showcase the best social change initiatives by children between the ages of 9 and 14. Madhu Verma, the woman behind SoCh, believes, “We all can make a difference in society no matter where we work”. Rightly said, Madhu!

So here are two organisations working relentlessly towards a cause that’s close to my heart. I commend their vision and hope that their work continues for as long as there are dreams to dream, future to look forward to and attitude of ‘I can’ to believe in. Having identified my cause, I jumped in, of course! I added these two organisations to my list of ‘ways to change the world’. I am humbled, empowered and proud to be a part of ‘Design For Change’ and ‘SoCh in action’ simply because I care and since ‘I can’. Now, the question is, have YOU found what you believe in? If so, are YOU being the change you want to see in this world?

In Kiran’s words, “If not us, then who? If not now, then when?”