One great opportunity that the four of us got, thanks to our mentor Praveen Nahar, was to be a part of the Jury for Design for Change, a design thinking initiative which started in India, but has now spread to over 60 countries! DFC provides a platform for school children to tell their stories of how the changed a problem that they or their community was facing. Every year, once stories from all over the world have been submitted, a jury team gathers to evaluate the stories and chooses 20 of the best stories, the participants of which are part of an elaborate ceremony.
The format that DFC follows is Feel, Imagine, Do, Share; wherein, the children are encouraged to Feel and identify a problem that they face in their daily life, Imagine different ways to solve that problem, Do and implement one or many of your solutions, Share your story with as many people as you can and change their lives as well. It is a beautiful simplified approach to what we consider to be complex design thinking.
Each Jury had 3 designers, 1 teacher from the Riverside School and 1 student from 7th grade. This resulted in a very interesting scenario, where the adults were very open to suggestions from children and took them seriously… what a surprise! The discussions were extremely eye opening because they were mostly conducted by the students.
The kind of projects that came up from the children were large scale interventions where the children tackled problems that affected their entire community, such as child marriage, wastage of water, fake news, and many more. The amount of confidence that this mindset gave them was something we learnt from here, as the children, every time they solved a part of the problem, would earn a sense of achievement that drove them to solve further problems.
To read more about the initiative, you can reach their website here