Design for Change Incites New Thinking
Strong-willed young people -- who stand up to parents and community to demand an education, create community spaces such as gardens and parade grounds and research and reinvigorate waning cultural events – are the stars of a series of videos intended to spawn more such acts of headstrong positivity.
Started in India, Design for Change is a global movement designed to give young people an opportunity to express their own ideas for a better world and put them into action. The challenge asks students to feel, imagine, do, and share; to say “I CAN: instead of “Can I?”
The program takes place primarily in and through schools, encouraging students to design and implement projects that touch the heart of their communities, addressing local issues and mobilizing local resources.
While the stories differ, the benefits of empowered students cut across cultures, says Ruthie Sobel Luttenberg, a DfC activist in Israel. "I am certain that DfC has the potential to radically change education in classrooms without creating a tsunami that requires building the whole school system from scratch," Luttenberg wrote in a recent blog post. "It can work within the system and changes the mindsets of children and the teachers at the same time."
In a partnership between DfC and the Fetzer Institute, films have been shot in India, Israel, Taiwan, Mexico and the United Kingdom. Along with short pieces on each story, the project will include the creation of a longer feature that touches on all of them. Stories include:
Students in Singapore felt their lunchroom workers were not being treated with the proper respect, so they took action to change the situation, creating posters praising the elderly individuals and raising funds to buy tokens of appreciation for them.
In India, kids determined to have a school protested, marched through town and confronted their parents, eventually becoming the first generation there with schooling as part of their lives.
In Israel, children noticed their community elders longing for a more communal lifestyle, so they created a shared garden to bring people together.
In Taiwan, middle schoolers realized that participation in their town’s millet harvest festival was dwindling because people did not understand the traditions behind the event. So they researched the event, wrote and published newspapers and shot videos to increase knowledge and uptake of the annual observation.
In Surrey, UK, students decided to approach and visit a local special needs secondary school. After visiting and making friends, they helped the school with sets for a class production, a school garden and other projects. They also learned a great deal about sustainable living, appreciating
In Temascaltepec, Mexico, students felt the lack of a shared square at their school was inhibiting civic ceremonies, so they raised funds and led the installation of a square that transformed the school grounds.
“Design for Change helps teach all of us adults that you don’t have to be rich or strong or powerful to make change happen,” says Kiran Bir Sethi, Design for Change’s founder. “All these children did was start from their hearts, and change happened.”
This is a project of the Fetzer Advisory Council on Education.