Remember in schools we had one room that used to be filled with broken chairs, broken tables and every other odd item which were of no use anymore. Broken pieces of furniture used to accumulate thick layers dust and after a point, they used to be sold off. These rooms were mostly called ‘stock maintenance’. Did we ever think, such ‘stock maintenance’ rooms can be turned to create something productive? Something useful and something which would interest the children as well?
We Are Young, (WAY) Foundation from Guwahati, Assam is striving to do the same. This five-year-old organisation is effectively bringing about a change in the way we look at these ‘stock maintenance’ rooms by changing them into ‘engine rooms’. The organisation was founded by Indrajit Sinha, a qualified dietician and an active NSS cadet from Jorhat, Assam. He is also an avid solo traveller who undertook a 70-day long journey from Guwahati to Jammu, on a bicycle to raise awareness on adolescent issues across the country.
When The Logical Indian spoke to Indrajit, he said, “We wanted to do something for the school, which didn’t involve teaching in the true sense of the word but wanted to create a larger impact. Our medium of penetration was extremely unique and it turned out to be a success in a way.”
Journey of the ‘Engine Room’
“It all started with Kamrup Academy in Guwahati where we started with life skills training. In a year we got 17 hours with the children. Soon enough we realised, this was not enough to achieve the kind of change we had envisioned. We wanted a deeper penetration and the allotted time was absolutely not appropriate,” said Indrajit. They escalated it further with the school authorities and were allotted 45 hours for each academic year.
With an extended time span, the WAY Foundation decided to start regular activity sessions on Sundays, but the next problem they encountered was that of space. The only space was the ‘stock maintenance’ room.
“We decided, this is where the activity sessions will take place. On Sundays, classrooms remain closed. We started off with up cycling the room. This also, in a way helped us set the ambience for the activity sessions. We named it the Engine Room,” Indrajit said, upon asking to elaborate the idea behind such a name.
Model of intervention
The Engine Room was started off with the idea to upcycle as much they could. Beginning with broken chairs, tables, discarded plastic water bottles to old newspapers, the Engine Room decided to up cycle it all. Upcycling started with the room itself. They used clay in place of paint to redo the walls. Indrajit said, “the entire sessions work on a very informal basis. The idea is to incorporate life skills through fun activities because we believe, children learn it best when they can actually have fun during the learning process.”
The entire activity works as a group effort where the children are clubbed into small groups. In the due process, they not only learn how to coordinate with group members, they also learn about team building and begin developing leadership skills. This creates an empowering and learning space for the students.
Additionally, the activity of up cycling often teaches children things in a more practical way by delving deeper into the curriculum level. For example, while working with broken chairs or tables, they get some more understanding about basic geometrical angles. While upcycling bottles to make them appropriate for potted plants, these students get insights about photosynthesis, amount of shade and light would be adequate for the plants to grow. This helps in internalising the life skills through real-life activities.
This model of intervention is also beneficial for the school authorities. Things which would end up lying in the store room and gathering dust now can be a beneficial to the school authorities, bringing them value for their investment. “The Engine Room program has been introduced in April, last year and we already have received a brilliant response from the children. This model infuses fun as well as elements of learning,” Indrajit said.
Apart from the Engine Room program, the WAY Foundation also conducts life skill programs across colleges. Additionally, they also have internship programs for volunteers. This internship program takes the volunteers through a month-long journey of incubation of their talents, bringing out the best in them, by the internship comes to an end. This internship lets each candidate have their own leadership journey through the process of one-to-one mentoring. The thirty-day long journey is entirely activity- based and it empowers the interns to take some kind of social action in the community.
Internship camp activities
The Logical Indian community applauds the kind of effort taken up by Indrajit and his team in creating a youth collective which effectively helps in empowering the youth and creating newer possibilities for them. He is an inspiration for all of us.
Click Here To Know More About The WAY Foundation
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