In the months of September and October, children and volunteers of Make A Difference, across India, participated in the global phenomenon that is Design For Change. DFC is a platform which encourages children to identify, find solutions and implement solutions to fix their own environments, thereby changing their own worlds.
Ever thought that a child cannot do something this momentous? Well, then you’re about to be proved wrong! Thousands upon thousands of children across the world (33 countries, this year) have participated in Design for Change, and by being the extraordinary talents they are, they’ve changed the world we live in, some way or the other!
At MAD, we were excited by the possibilities. So were our volunteers, and so were our children. A bevy of projects were implemented up and down the country. We were awed, inspired, shocked at times by how aware our kids were about the issues surrounding them!
The children took to it so fast that some of us had trouble keeping up. (One particular group came up with 80 ideas for DFC!) In fact, there were so many that we decided to organise a small internal competition to celebrate the best of the best of the best!
Over the course of this week and the next, we’ll be bringing to you the stories of those who stood out from amongst the rest. These are MAD’s superheroes. The volunteers and children who inspire us day in, day out!
By Riddhi Joshi
Ours is called the “nerdy” class of Ballika Ashram. While the rest of the classes start dispersing at 5 p.m. sharp, our class continues to work until finally we have to get up and say, “We have had enough, even if you haven’t.” Although honestly, we can never have enough of those kids. I’m sure my co-teachers agree with me on that.
So full of enthusiasm and so full of curiosity, these kids are the one thing I look forward to at the end of the week. And to imagine that such kids will be presented with the opportunity to bring about change, we undoubtedly expected an overwhelming response.
But no, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be! It took us two whole sessions to explain to them the idea behind “Design for Change.” But a little push is all they needed and after analyzing lots of problems, we decided to work on “Traffic Rules and Road Safety.”
So what was the problem?
These kids go to UBMC School, Balmatta. They walk to school and back every day. They find it extremely difficult and scary to cross the road at times because of the speeding vehicles (Don’t we all, even though we are all grown up?).
So what do they want to do about it?
The main idea was that only by cooperation between the vehicle drivers and the pedestrians can the roads be made safer.
Write a letter to the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Traffic Sub-division, Mangalore city requesting them to send a Traffic Policeman to teach the kids at the ashram about traffic rules.
Meet with the bus drivers and explain their problems to them (mainly about speeding) through a skit and charts
The kids practiced a very simple skit where they portrayed how buses should slow down in school zones especially when they see school kids crossing the road.
So then we set out to go to the State Bank bus stand, which is a major stop for most buses operating in Mangalore. The kids dressed in school uniforms with charts approaching the bus drivers made a lot of passersby curious. Seeing so many people the kids got a little nervous but recovered soon to put up a splendid performance for the audience.
Click on the link to see the awesome performance by Vishalakshi, Bhavya, Dhyamavva, Chaithanya, Rakshitha, Shilpa and Ashwini.(A Street Play On Road Safety By The Kids At Baalika Ashram)
They also spoke to some other bus drivers who had not seen the skit.
Next on the agenda was having a traffic policeman visit them in the ashram to teach them about traffic rules and road safety.
So after requesting the Assistant Commisioner of police, Traffic Subdivision, Mangalore to send a traffic policeman for this purpose, Mr. Gopalkrishna Bhat, an extremely sweet and patient traffic policeman gave the kids a lecture on traffic rules and road safety. The kids also asked him questions which he very eagerly answered.
This concluded our purpose of making the vehicle drivers as well as students aware of traffic rules and road safety. Like Shilpa said at the end of the skit, “Together let’s make the roads safe for all of us! “