We have some fantastic news to start the New Year!!
In November last year, “The Re-image Learning Challenge” was floated by The LEGO Foundation and Ashoka with the aim of transforming the way the world learns. Innovators, educators, academics, and many others from 63 countries submitted more than 630 of the most innovative, impactful and sustainable learning projects to “The Re-imagine Learning Challenge". We are proud to announce that out of all of them, Dream a Dream was chosen as 1 of 10 champions with the most innovative, impactful and sustainable projects aimed at transforming the way the world learns.
Upon receiving the award, at the LEGO Idea Conference in Billund, Co-Founder & CEO Vishal Talreja said, “Dream a Dream is deeply honoured by the LEGO Foundation and Ashoka’s recognition. The award stands as a testimony to the work we believe in—infusing play into learning experiences for young people and teachers, and thereby developing critical life skills to help young people navigate life’s many challenges.”
Lego Foundation recently made two videos around the championship and you can view them on the links below.
For us the award is a validation of the many stories, like Keerthi's, who overcome the challenges that life throws at them and reach for the stars.
Keerthi is 18 years old. He has two sisters. His father works as a security guard and mother works in a garment factory. Inspite of coming from a vulnerable background, Keerthi felt that he had the potential to reach greater heights. He was a bundle of talent, albeit without a platform to express it. This is when he got introduced to our Career Connect Program. After the program, he could see a measureable change in his life.
“Previously, I used to have a carefree attitude to life. I lacked commitment, focus and a sense of responsibility towards my own future. I always believed that I am intelligent, talented and good at studies, but I did not realize the importance of hard work, commitment or discipline in life that one ought to have to become successful. I also learnt that it is important to take initiatives and come out of one’s comfort zone in order to realize one’s potential,” reminisces Keerthi.
Life skills sessions at Career Connect played a pivotal role in his transformation. With a beaming smile, he says, “Life skills sessions were an eye opener to me. The facilitators are caring and compassionate. Through these sessions, they help us to reflect on ourselves and this combined with peer learning also provided me the ideal atmosphere to introspect and accelerate my personal growth.”
Keerthi was able to take up a job as a trainee with distinguished retail outlets like KFC, Café Coffee Day and Westside with the placement support provided by Career Connect program. This was a paradigm shift in his career. He explains, “Before I joined Career Connect, I used to work part time as a construction worker. It was an extremely laborious job. After I joined Career Connect, I was able to use my social skills to interact with customers at KFC, CCD, and Westside which boosted my morale and increased my self-esteem.”
Keerthi, today, displays immense confidence, and recently hosted the international “Change The Script” conference held by Dream A Dream. He was hugely appreciated for his communication skills. Now, through Dream A Dream, he is short-listed for a one year exchange program sponsored by the US Consulate. His story has inspired all of us.
There are many young people like Keerthi, who are dreaming big and are waiting for opportunities to turn their dreams into reality. It is Dream A Dream’s prerogative and a pledge to support them to the fullest. However, we cannot do it without your support. Any contribution, whether it’s USD 5, USD 250 or USD 2500 will go directly to support these bright and talented young people. By making a small contribution, you can make a big difference in their lives.
Wishing you an Inspiring 2015! With troubling events dominating the news and the national conversation, it's easy to feel powerless and cynical these days. However, there are 30,000 reasons to also feel optimistic. One of them being Padma.
Padma was introduced to Dream A Dream through a computer skills programme we were conducting in the Round Table School. She was in the 8th grade and came across as a very quiet girl, with little confidence and unable to interact with others. She was part of various Dream A Dream programmes through the schooling years, struggling through her low self-esteem, but always been a diligent participant. At Dream A Dream, we believe, when a young person turns up week-on-week for a programme, they are showcasing their commitment and we value, validate and celebrate that.
Padma pursued her Pre-University education after completing her schooling and became a participant at the Dream Connect Center run by Dream A Dream close to her home. She dropped out of education after her 1st year of Pre-university education. Academics did not interest her and she was struggling to cope with the stress. Her family pressurized her to continue education and admitted her to a government run Industrial Training Institute (ITI) for vocational training. She dropped out of it in 2 months.
Padma’s interest was fuelled again when we introduced an opportunity to pursue a year-long dance scholarship programme with Lourd Vijay Dance School (LVDS). Being a passionate dancer, she decided to apply. She didn’t believe that she would get through it, she kept saying, “I’m bad at it, and I think I’ll just try. I think there are so many people who dance better than me; I think they’ll get it, not really me.”
Padma was elated with happiness when she was selected for the programme. This was the breakthrough in life she was looking for and she had got it. She said, “After dropping out of ITI, I was back to square one – sitting at home, doing household work and nothing else. I am sick of sitting at home. I felt hopeless but right now, I feel like I’m in a new world.”
The next challenge to Padma was to convince her mother to let her be on the program. It’s a good thing that young people make their choice, but if their parents’ support is not there, it’s difficult to proceed.
Padma’s mother was disappointed that Padma didn’t continue her education and ITI. Her dropping out caused a lot of financial loss to her family because they paid a huge amount for the course fees. Padma’s mother blamed her daughter for their woes but ultimately said, “At the end of the day, it’s her choice. It’s awesome that she has you; she has Dream Connect and other people to support, which she is not utilizing. I don’t think anyone would get this opportunity.”
Padma’s eyes opened widely and she dropped her jaw in excitement and happiness upon hearing her mother saying it’s her choice. I think that’s something that surprised her. She says, “I didn’t realize all this while that my mother was letting me make my own choice.”
Padma transformed when she found her dream for life. She would eagerly share about her experiences at LVDS, share stories from her days with excitement and confidence and express her joy abundantly. She would confidently interact with other young people from diverse backgrounds and had found her self-esteem.
Recently she was invited to be a guest speaker at an Alumni Meet at Dream A Dream. Padma stood in front of 60 young adults, volunteers and guests and shared her story with confidence inspiring other young people to pursue their dreams. She had truly become a changemaker.
‘I have learnt so many things from Dream a Dream. I have got an opportunity in LVDS. This is the wonderful opportunity in my life. This is the most useful platform. It allows me to show my capacity or my talents with others and I am enjoying the classes. I want to become a professional dancer in future. I am really putting my full of full efforts into the dance and great opportunity in my life. Thanks a lot to Dream A Dream and L. V. D. S. Thank you so much for giving the opportunity to me.’
Today, Padma has successfully completed her course and was immediately hired by LVDS as a dance teacher in one of their school-based programmes. She is teaching dance and life skills for children from difficult backgrounds. She is confident, proud and living her dream.
In the ups and downs of young people, supportive adults standing rock solid with empathy and trust that young people have the abilities and capabilities to make their own life choices and have the grit to deal with the implications of those choices, is critical. Celebrating the fact that young people are turning up, not giving up, giving them the space to come into their own, trusting their choices have been key to Dream A Dream’s approach to transforming lives.
Young people like Padma are Changing the Script of their lives and will shape our world with empathy, resilience and a love for life. They are our hope. In their stories, Dream A Dream has found the strength to dream of a different future. Dream A Dream is proud to invest in thousands of Padma’s and walk the journey of transformation with them. But our ability to do so, year after year, also depends on you, our community of friends and partners.
Let’s celebrate young people who will give us a better, more hopeful future. Please consider continuing to support us so we give wings to their dreams. Any contribution, whether it's USD 5, USD 250 or USD 2500 will go directly to support these amazing young people. Together, we can build a brighter future.
Thank you and visit us at www.dreamadream.org
It was been an absolutely cracker of a year so far at Dream A Dream!
In June, 6 young people from Dream A Dream got an opportunity of a lifetime when they represented India at the Football for Hope Festival held alongide the Football World Cup in Brazil. It was an experience that transformed them for life. Here is an media interview just before they left for Brazil -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1XRg1Yar_Rw. and a News report on their return - http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/bangalore/our-footballers-are-back-from-brazil/article6246258.ece.
While, 6 of our young people were making ripples Internationally, we continued to be inspired by stories of young people in our programmes. Stories like that of Praveen. 17 year old Praveen hailing from a low-income urban community joined the Dream Connect programme to enhance his Computer, English and Communication Skills. Inspired by the impact of the programme, Praveen started encouraging his friends in the community to join our programme and the last we heard, 22 of his friends have joined various programmes at Dream Connect. Praveen is not only making healthier choices in his life but also being a Changemaker in his community.
The Dream Connect programme was started in 2010 to support young people like Praveen who need guidance, mentorship, access to information and opportunities and life skills to make life’s tough decisions as they embark into adulthood. Today, Dream Connect works with nearly 5,000 young people in the 14-19 age group from the most vulnerable communities in Bangalore.
Stories like that of Vishnu. Vishnu was part of Dream A Dream's After School Life Skills Programme nearly 5 years back. Today, Vishnu is a Changemaker at Dream A Dream and in his community. Vishnu and his friends setup a Rugby Team and started taking free sessions next to a open sewer for other young children in his community. Inspired by the changes he was seeing, he and his friends have pursued their passion for Rugby and setup a local club to nurture talent and also participate in tournaments. In a recent tournament, his team won the cup which they proudly dedicated to Dream A Dream. He also pursues his college and works part-time with us as a Life Skills Facilitator taking our innovative Life Skills Approach to atleast 150 children in urban slum communities.
We are beginning to see the tide turn after 15 years of committed effort in Bangalore. Hundreds of young graduates from our programmes are beginning to take leadership in their life and communities and become true Changemakers and it is just adding more inspiration to our movement of Changing the Script for these young people.
Your support is critical to help us increase the tribe of young changemakers like Praveen and Vishnu. Have you made your annual contribution to Dream A Dream yet? If not, our sincere request to do it now and also help us reach out to your friends and family to join the movement.
Today, the movement reaches out to 50,000 young people through all our various programmes across 3 states of India and we have ambitious plans to empower 250,000 young people by 2016. Your support to make this happen is critical!
The Dream Team
Dear Co dreamers,
We are excited to say that our 6 young people who are part of the Life Skills through Sports programme got a life time opportunity when they were selected to participate at the FIFA Football For Hope Festival, 2014 at Brazil that run parrallel to the world cup.
Along with this report, I want to share with you a volunteer story from the Dream outdoor experiential camp, followed by a few highlights of Dream A Dream programme.
The training camp lead by two lead facilitators Nilisha and Boppana was truly amazing and definitely set a benchmark the way camps can be lead. Every detail was kept in mind at all times to create a space where each of us felt encouraged to explore and nurture ourselves of our skills and talents. It was heartening to see how young people were open to express their thoughts and ideas and take creative risks.
Every staff meeting the leads would talk about what they saw was not going good, and how we could help get the group’s energy up. Things like how zoombas (camp volunteers) have to treat young people as equal, our need to come forward in gratitude circle and show how it is not only the big things that deserve gratitude , importance to push our edge and its effects on the young people, etc. It was also good to see how zoombas and leads worked as one team and were in sync.
Jayanth (a student attending the camp) said “it is difficult to get spaces like this where we can share freely.” The grace and honesty in which he lead the workshop with his friend Rakshith where we made science models, the way he owned the group, took us step by step on how to make a rocket with simple and clear instructions was excellent. As a next activity, we had to make a solar system. He took ideas from each one of us on how we would want to do it and let us do the model.
The way Maria Pradeep (a student attending the camp) lead the workshop about life skills where he was constantly challenging the group to be together and keep calm and attentive, modified his instructions and took the group together to the goal. Had a reflection circle at the end to hear about the experience from the participants. Took what he felt was important and brought it to the group to know what others wanted to say. I was amazed to see how he had conducted the workshop and debrief of the same.
I can just go on with everything I saw, and even after so many days of camp, the memories and learning’s stay fresh. This has been one of most special camp I have attended so far.
Please scroll down to see a few pictures from the programme. We look forward for your continued support and an enduring relationship.
We are very excited to inform you that we are counting days to take participate in FIFA festival 2014. 6 young people and 6 young leaders of our programme is participating in the esteemed programme will be held in Brazil. They are also got an opportunity to watch live quarter final world cup football match 2014.
With this report I would want to share with you the Alisha (name changed), from the words of our Life Skills Facilitator followed by a few highlights of Dream A Dream programme.
The Challenge: Alisha (name changed) is a 14 year old girl studying in the 8th grade has been part of the Dream Life Skills through Arts Programme since August 2012.
The Life Skills facilitator observed that Alisha was not regular in the sessions and used to give reasons like, “I am not well, I have to leave my sister to school, Relatives have come home, etc.” Initially the facilitator thought that Alisha was not interested in the programme and attempted to talk to her but it didn’t work.
Subsequently the facilitator observed that during sessions, other participants were not friendly with Alisha. They were not willing to mingle with her and avoided sitting next to her. If anyone sat next to Alisha, that person was laughed and teased by the others. During a personal conversation with the facilitator, Alisha shared that since no one was friendly with her and the she was teased and scolded even at school, she did not want to attend the sessions. Alisha further shared that her classmates refused to help her in class work. When she brought this to principal’s notice, she scolded her back. Her parents convinced her saying they will change her school next year.
The Change: During one of the Life Skill sessions, the facilitator observed that no one wanted to pair with Alisha. After the session, the facilitator posed this question to the group and one of the participants mentioned that they felt that “Alisha is not clean and is not a decent girl.”
The facilitator realized the gravity of the discrimination and engaged Alisha in one-on-one conversations. The facilitators focus was to build her strength, resilience and ability to deal with this discrimination. Slowly building a personal bond with Alisha, providing her with lots of authentic validation, creating a safe space for Alisha to share her feelings and by listening to her, the facilitator managed to transform Alisha.
The facilitator shared her own story and encouraged Alisha to stay on in the programme. Alisha shared this with her mother and her mother encouraged her to attend these sessions. Through regular interactions with the facilitator, building her trust on the facilitator, Alisha became interested in attending the sessions and gradually the other participants noticed Alisha’s interest and talent.
The facilitator gradually noticed that Alisha started taking leadership, engaging with others and learning to deal with her feelings when others were teasing her. For instance, one day she could not complete her class work; her teacher did not allow her to attend the session. But Alisha was interested. She requested the facilitator to get her permission from the principal to attend session. She got it done.
One day Alisha shared with the facilitator, “Akka (sister), my friends celebrated my birthday using their own money and they are friendly with me!” Alisha is moving forward in her life positively and wants to continue in life skill sessions next year also.
The Dream Power: At Dream A Dream, the core of our intervention with young people centers around bringing care and empathy in our engagement with them. Through deep listening, building personal connections, acceptance, validation and creating safe learning spaces, we develop critical life skills in young girls like Alisha.
“This Training helped me to change my way of communication and interaction, I learnt the importance of the two in my day to day life and most importantly as a Teacher.” – Teacher, Youth For Seva after attending Life Skills Facilitator’s training level3
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