In early 2009, Kiran Bir Sethi launched her biggest initiative to date, a national campaign that encourages school children across India to participate in a one-week project to change some aspect of life in their own communities. With only a few months’ lead time, she bravely vowed to involve 20,000 schools and 100,000 students. In fact, 32,274 schools across India participated in the “Design for Giving School Contest”, and hundreds of thousands of school kids were involved. Participants entered as student teams represented through a classroom, grade, or school. Having been invited to “redesign” their communities, winners were chosen based on their projects’ impact according to the number of people affected, quickest impact, maximum potential for long-lasting change, easiest to replicate, and most environmentally friendly. A special Gandhi Prize was also awarded—all projects take place the week of October 2, the revered leader’s birthday.
The thousands of projects submitted to the “Design for Giving School Contest” ranged across nine languages and diverse imperatives. Among them: Save Our Mangroves, Help Reach the Unreachables, Avoid Transgender Discrimination, Care for and Protect the Homeless, and Stop Child Marriages. Also proposed were Collect Plastic Bags Week, Playground for Children, Dignified Attire, and a Stop Spitting Campaign. My favorite proposal came from a village where the crematorium was located next to the schoolyard. Children who had clear sightings of burials during recess organized to petition the town council to erect a wall blocking their view. The wall doubled as a space for posting public announcements. Per the contest’s stipulations, this project too was accomplished within a week.
The Bishop’s Co-ED School was one of the school that made its way to the submission:
Directed & Produced by Aarti Shrivastava