5 Incredibly Inspiring Stories Of Children Changing World For The Better!

With all the world’s social and environmental problems like climate change, food scarcity, extreme poverty, educational inequity, increasing by the day, there is only one sustainable solution. Instead of relying only on the government or civic-society organizations to solve these problems, all of us need to take action at an individual-level to solve them. While most of us turn a blind eye to these problems, here are five stories of children who stepped up and took charge to solve problems they found in their society.

Team Blue Brigade

12-year olds Arindum, Raghav, Sufi, Ankit and Ashar learnt that the amount of water used in flush tanks in toilets is more than what is necessary to flush a toilet fully. Wanting to save this extra water, they started their initiative Blue Brigade and used one of the most creative ideas to save this flush tank water! They collected old 500ml plastic bottles from their neighbourhood, filled them with sand and gravel, and then placed 4 of them each in a flush tank. This reduced the tank volume by 2 litres (using the displacement principle) and now 2 litres of water is saved every time when someone uses the flush. They started installing these bottles in every washroom in their school, and in their neighbours’ houses. Till now, they have placed bottles in 40+ flush tanks in over 20 washrooms, and are saving more than 45,000+ litres of water every month.

Team ‘Blue Brigade’ working towards saving water, one flush at a time     

Team Code Red

Menstruation is still a taboo amongst girls, especially the ones from low-economic background. The lack of awareness about menstrual hygiene often affects school attendance, performance and health of these young girls. When Gowri, Keerthi, Aryan and Srishti, 14-year-old students from Bangalore realised this, they started Code Red with an aim to build this awareness amongst the girls and enable them to reach their full potential. They designed menstrual hygiene workshops and started conducting them in government schools.

The workshops start with showing the girls an animated video about menstruation to help them understand everything in detail, followed by a live demonstration on how to use sanitary napkins. They also give out Menstrual Hygiene Kits, consisting of information pamphlets, calendar and a hot water bottle, to every girl. The sessions end with explaining how to use the calendar to help the girls track their menstrual cycles and how to use a hot water bottle to reduce the pain during menstrual cramps. Till now, they have conducted 12+ workshops in 8 government schools and impacted 500+ young girls.

Team ‘Code Red’ conducting menstrual hygiene workshops

Team “You’ve Got A Friend In Me”

15-year olds Shashank, Vatsala, Ravisha, Shrishti and Diya, realised that the teenagers of today’s generation face a lot of mental health issues – like insecurity, anxiety, and depression – but don’t have a safe space to express and resolve them. To solve this problem, they started a Peer-to-Peer Counselling Cell in their school to help children facing such issues. They installed a postbox in the campus where students could anonymously drop letters about any problems they were dealing with and get help. Soon, they started receiving letters and by taking the help of a counsellor in their network, they wrote answers to their problems, and posted them on the bulletin board, still maintaining anonymity, but enough to give direction to the student with the problem and even others who were facing similar problems. They did a face a challenge in the beginning as students were hesitant to speak up, but eventually, they built trust and till now, have been able to help over 50 students in their school and normalise the conversation on mental health.

 

Team “You’ve got a friend in me”  breaking the stigma around mental health

Team BALA

When a 6th grade Math teacher from a Government Higher Primary School was explaining the concept of solid figures to her students using different objects, her four 11-year-students, Rafiq, Sahana, Santosh and Akash, realised that it was very easy to understand the concept by physically seeing it. They loved this new method of teaching and started thinking if they could understand other concepts as well using the physical spaces in their school like the staircases, classroom doors, walls, etc.

They began ideating and implementing their ideas. To begin with, they drew a giant protractor on the floor below the door to help students understand the concept of angles (see photo). They then converted the staircase into number tables to help their juniors understand it better (see photo). As another activity, they made a height measuring scale on the wall to help students understand different units of length. The other students loved this method of teaching, and 87% of them reported that this method made it easier for them to understand the concepts and retain them better.

Team ‘BALA’ implementing their initiative ideas (left); A student learning the number tables (right)

Team Go Green

At the end of the academic year, students still have a lot of unused paper in their school notebooks which are mostly thrown away. Seeing this happening in their school, Abdul, Apoorv, Dhruv, Swetha, Vanshika and Varun, came up with a plan. They started “Go Green” to reuse this paper and avoid its wastage. They conducted a huge collection drive in their school and apartments, collected the old notebooks from students, took out the unused sheets, bound them together, and made new notebooks out of them. To make them appealing to other students, they also made attractive covers for these notebooks. Till now, these young changemakers have produced 45+ notebooks and sold them to students, and have saved more than by 4500+ pages from getting wasted!

Team ‘Go Green’ in action to create new notebooks out of unused paper.

Liked the work of these kids? Don’t forget to share this story in your network to inspire more people to take action.

An American anthropologist, Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” These young changemakers are surely a true testament to this quote. By taking a lead and solving the problems around them, they are showing us the power of individuals to make change happen!

NOTE: These initiatives were started by students as part of International Changemaker Olympiad (ICO), an annual Olympiad that gives a platform to young kids to launch their initiatives and make a difference in this world. You can read more about their work on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Website.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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