Children of India: In Search of Solutions

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We have world leaders, government representatives and UN members who all supposedly work towards creating a better world, but sometimes it’s not the officials who have all the answers. Sometimes the kids can teach us a lot more than we realise.

Last weekend Cape Tonians got to enjoy the fruits of months of hard work by creatives and artists for the Design Indaba. I spent some time walking around the colourful and innovative products on Saturday and felt really inspired by the work that a lot of individuals do. Some architects designed buildings that would be eco-friendly and some craftsman created chairs and stools out of recycled goods. It’s refreshing to see so many innovative minds working towards a better planet.

And that’s exactly what the children of India are doing. Delia de Villiers reports on Design Indaba that the premise of the Design for Change (DFC)competition, “feel it, imagine it, do it and then share it” has inspired the kids to participate in the search for ways to solve the planet’s environmental and social problems.

The contest asks participants between the ages of six and 18 to acknowledge a problem in their community, come up with a solution to alleviate that problem and then implement that solution over a period of a week.

The “I can” attitude that the contest inspires in children has been adapted all over the world. There is even a project currently underway in South Africa; you can watch the YouTube video.

In India there are a number of projects that the kids are working on including the collection of plastic bags for a week, solutions for transgender discrimination, a Stop Spitting Campaign, pressurising authorities to ban child marriages and a child-friendly zebra crossing.

Design activist and educator, Kiran Bir Sethi, told de Villiers that the campaign is an attempt to fight the “don’t know, don’t care” attitude that many Indian youth adopt. The DFC movement makes use of the creativity and eagerness in kids to combat real issues that dampen a society’s sense of community. The project originated in India in 2007 at the Riverside School in Ahmedabad. De Villiers comments that the school’s approach to education is not an average curriculum system but rather it is “built around a system that employs aspects of design thinking to nurture curious, independent, competent and forward-thinking learners and citizens”.

With the pressing issues that solving around the world it’s not surprising that this project is appealing to schools and children worldwide. Projects have been implemented in Pakistan, Australia, Mexico and Thailand amongst others and the eco-design bug is spreading like wildfire. Perhaps some of our world leaders could take some notes on the way the next generation are working together to better their future.

Image by Stephen Eastop via Stock.xchng.

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