A health camp for the underprivileged, education for slum women, a
cleanliness drive-these are not government schemes but social
projects being carried out by many Agra students as part of an
international contest, "Design for Change".
In what is being termed as the most ambitious movement for change,
students of more than 20 schools in Agra between the age group of
8-13 years are participating in the contest.
The first stage of the contest, which began last week, involves
students zeroing in on a bright innovative idea through
brainstorming sessions. The second stage will involve the actual
creation of the project. It will be held during the "Joy of
Giving" week from Sep 26 to Oct 2.
Boys at St Peter's College have come up with Upachar - a health
camp for the underprivileged.
"Each day, medical specialists will provide free medical support
for the weaker sections. Boys are contacting people in small
localities and slums to inform people of the facility," said
Akanksha, a teacher leading a team of a dozen boys.
Girls at the convent next door have drawn up a programme to
educate the womenfolk of slums. "It will be a kind of crash course
that would sensitise and motivate women to pursue learning later,"
Sister Lawrence, principal of St Patrick's Junior College, told
"Most schools these days are hooked to dancing, singing, fashion
shows, debates or essay writing contests. Now this one is unique
and different. It educates, empowers and enriches both the target
and the implementers," said social activist Rajan Kishore.
One school is planning to launch a "hand-washing campaign" to help
people ward off swine flu and eye flu. Another is focusing on a
quick-fix solution to remove dirt heaps from a colony.
Actor Rahul Bose, who is the brand ambassador of the campaign,
said in his message: "The idea of getting children to
isolate a problem that deeply affects them, then find and
implement a solution - empowers them in a way most people never
According to concept promoter Kiran Sethi, founder director of the
Riverside School in Ahmedabad: "The aim of the contest is to
change the perception of children from 'helpless' to 'drivers of
change'. One doesn't have to 'grow up' to make a powerful change!"
The contest is being held in 22 countries, Britain, Brazil,
Taiwan, Ireland, Bhutan and Romania to name a few.
"Children from all over the world with simple, fresh and bold
ideas of change will demonstrate that they can design solutions
for some of the world's greatest challenges. We hope the ideas
will be replicated worldwide to change a billion lives," Kiran
Sethi told IANS on phone.
"Last year, the Design for Change contest topics ranged from
stopping child marriages to filling potholes, from combating
loneliness to converting waste dumps into gardens. It could be
anything from a shoe drive to a mass donation to charity or even a
'smile at strangers' day," she added.
An international jury will select the top 100 projects.
Publishing house Amar Chitra Katha will publish selected stories
of change in their comic book series Tinkle, while Mindspark will
give a grant of Rs.5,000 to the top 100 stories.
Last year, children in a Jodhpur village took on fraud godmen and
made villagers pledge they would never fall into superstitious
traps again. In a Haryana village, children worked out a plan to
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