Where Art Ends Violence
Schools can be wonderful places of learning, exposure and joy. But they can also have problems like abuse, bullying, wastage of time and resources, and a lack of motivation to learn. For me, the root causes that are leading to all these problems are lack of positive values and mindsets, and exposure to outside world, coupled with a lack of purpose and role models in local communities. All these problems intertwine in a cyclical process that creates an negative atmosphere in the community, that does not care about the well-being of its people.
I am working towards building skills like creative thinking, collaboration and values like integrity, discipline and compassion in the kids from an early age by conducting art workshops with up to 25 young members of my community and their parents. I believe that it can solve the problems in my community in a way that is sustainable and creates long term change. This will help me build a community that respects people and their surroundings.
I chose arts to achieve my purpose since I like the arts and I am good at it. It is also very different than other regular subjects and is a lot of fun. However, to work with arts and crafts, we need a lot of material which is expensive. So we sell the best created items and generate funds to buy the material. This builds a lot of ownership and responsibility in the kids and pushes us to be resourceful. It also develops a sense of independence.
Through this project, I have learnt to plan sessions, set visions and break them down into goals. I have learnt how to give constructive feedback. I have learnt strategies to create sustainable change and key business principles. My biggest learning was that, change takes time, you have to start small and aim big. It was disheartening for me to see very little progress after 6 months of continuous toil which demotivated me. But with time, I learnt what it meant to truly be resilient. Another major challenge I faced was conducting classes regularly, while balancing all my schoolwork and homework. So, I started training a core group of kids who would conduct the classes in my absence. This reduced the load on me and built responsibility in those kids also giving them opportunity to lead by example and become role models for other kids.
I have been working on this project for about a year now and am able to see the gradual impact it is having. I have managed to bring a previously unwilling set of kids together. Kids who would previously abuse and hit each other now work in teams without my having to tell them to. The kids now explain each other not to fight and have developed the wisdom to tell difference between right and wrong. They throw the garbage in dustbins and sometimes ask others to do it as well. A few kids even accepted and took responsibility for the fact that they stole the material from me and promised to not repeat it. This shows that they are taking more responsibility of their actions and of the people and atmosphere around them. Most of all, the parents have reduced – and some of them have completely stopped – hitting their kids. As a direct impact of that I see the kids have stopped hitting each other. This has created a safer space for them to learn at home and in their surroundings. The parents who used to complain about kids not utilising their time have shared experiences that the kids are now engaged in learning activities in their free time. A group four students has taken ownership and started making products to sell in their free time. It makes me proud that the kids are taking ownership of their own learning and demonstrating collaboration.
Sakshi Barad, Ninth grade