Social Transformation By Expanding The Minds Of Our Children
Orion’s ALT program (Awakening Leadership in Teens) is a transformative intervention that attempts to broaden the perspective of the participants and change the definition of success that drives self-centeredness.
While growth in the fields of transportation, communication, service sectors, technology are key requirements for a country’s development, equally important and yet most often overlooked is the need to develop and cultivate the hearts and minds of the society that make it up.
Part of the stark reality of our time is the fact that there exists access to resources, opportunities, rights and privileges for some, while a majority of the marginalized and neglected has access to none of the above. Our children, impressionable, and powerhouses of talent, passion and ability, are inheritors of this mixed legacy.
Our children are part of a fiercely competitive, fast-paced world characterized by individualism and instant gratification. This ends up shaping their minds and personalities in manners that are often undesirable. There is an acute need for sensitizing them to realities and issues beyond themselves, connecting them with the world and reflecting on it; eventually to result in positive actions for changing the world around them. This is what Orion Square, run by entrepreneurs Nitin & Jyotika Dhawan based in New Delhi, is doing. Through its pioneering education initiatives, Orion Square is providing students a holistic development approach and connecting them to Societal consciousness.
To make the children realize the challenges faced by underprivileged, rapid global warming and the SDG goals of UNDP they should experience real-life settings and get to reflect on them. Orin provides the students the platform and orientation that helps them come up with innovative ideas and solutions for addressing the opportunities.
The empowering of the underprivileged or discriminated can only happen when our children can empathize with them when they can understand their burden and challenges. Poverty, illiteracy, inequalities and discrimination in India will continue to grow in India, if the educated kids continue to focus on what ‘I achieved’ rather than what ‘we did’ for the betterment of Society.
Orion’s ALT program (Awakening Leadership in Teens) is a transformative intervention that attempts to broaden the perspective of the participants and change the definition of success that drives self-centeredness. Orion kindles the desire in the students (mostly aged between 10 to 17 years) to make a meaningful social impact in our communities. At Orion Square, participation in community service activities is instilled as a value that is pursued with passion. Children start to associate helping someone else with their own joy.
The ESL projects (Engaging Service-learning) then offers the opportunity to develop life skills by participating in real-life projects in communities. They work on creating a sustainable improvement in society and equip students with the tools to bring about a change, through active engagement in initiatives of their choice.
Given this opportunity to lead, young people rise to the challenge and take on projects where they can make a difference. The projects are undertaken in group settings where students work together to find solutions to addressable social problems that plague society. Through this journey, students engage with socio-economic realities and are empowered as local change agents.
ESL participants select projects in of the 5 E’s
Ecology (Let’s Unwaste, organic gardening, recycling and upcycling, gaming to save the environment)
Economy (Creating slum school library through Upcycling, skill building and marketing of upcycled gifts made by slum girls & senior citizens)
Epidemiology (Freedom from Malnutrition, Natural Healing, and Save & Safe Water projects)
Equality (Diversity, Discrimination and inclusiveness projects like Mainstreaming Transgenders, promoting Diversity in school & workplace, Theatre with Shelter home kids)
Empathy (Digital literacy and dignified living for elderly, Musicerapy- Music therapy at Hospitals, old age homes, shelter homes, trauma centers etc, Animal care sensitivity projects)
Orion enables these projects every month with a team of dedicated mentors who are working along with the students to seek answers from policymakers and people in authority, research and benchmark and create campaigns to mitigate the social evil/issue.
ESL instills leadership traits where they not only learn skills such as communication, self-confidence, responsibility and problem solving but also understand motivations, social skills and empathy. They discuss the issues and the solutions and get motivated to execute with utmost responsibility. They also start to recognize how the journey is as important as the destination.
Nitin and Jyotika, were educated in traditional schools and colleges, Nitin an Engineer from DCE and MBA from S.P Jain and Jyotika, a political science graduate and MBA from XLRI. Both have spent decades in corporate jobs in organizations like American Express and Airtel. A technologist by experience, Nitin says that Orion Square, our social entrepreneurship venture was born with the realization that social transformation will get its power if our children had the right orientation when they were able to think beyond ‘me’.
Running this over the last 4 years, Orion Square has helped expand the minds of several hundred students. They are confident that it is a matter of time before this transformation becomes a Worldwide Agenda. We are trying to build sustainable improvements, build knowledge management with the students' community so that these can be improved over generations. 75 years into Independence, we have it in our power to pass on to our children a brighter inheritance than that bequeathed to any previous generation, Jyotika adds.
We have been very conscious of our approach, to never tell the children, but help them see for themselves. While there are several parents who are seeking this kind of exposure, many of the children are so caught up in academics and rote learning that their sensitivity and perception of the real world has diminished considerably. This is what has inspired Orion’s new initiative, Arts Centred Project Learning (ACPL). This is aimed at inspiring experiential learning, where creativity is inspired through arts and children understand and connect with the world deeper. This is powered by several conscious educators, all over India, motivated to foster multidisciplinary experiential learning.
Orion Square is engaging students beyond traditional education that is taught in school but is mostly meaningless in the growth of the nation, world. There is so much emphasis on marks and competition in today’s education that holistic understanding of the world is getting amiss, Jyotika says.
Nitin believes that in India we can not only elevate the social consciousness but also create solutions through a collaborative understanding of the real issues in our youth crusaders. This will lead to a more egalitarian society with an inclusive approach towards growth and progress.
Orion has received an award for its work in Diversity and Equality. They work with students in the age of 11-17 years. Visit them at www.theorion.org.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house
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