Holla there people! Hope the summer heat isn’t getting to you. This year The Red Door took off very differently and expectedly by collaborating with K.C. Thackeray Vidya Niketan Pune, a school that is located in the heart of Pune near Somwarpeth. This school is meant for children from low-income communities coming from a range of difficult life circumstances – some who live under the bridges, and on the streets, and some who are in organized gangs in Pune city.
HOW IS K.C.THACKERAY DIFFERENT THAN MOST GOVERNMENT SCHOOLS?
The school has built a strong ethos of social activism towards leading change and has supplemented the government school curriculum by projects and books which allow students to explore their identities as agents of change. A history teacher takes her students on a practical Satyagraha, and an English teacher asks her students to do a project on juvenile delinquency, even as they explore the English language. Further, children are exposed to works like Trash and Everybody Loves a Good Drought, which allow them to start seeing the world from a range of different perspectives.
The results of this perspective-building can been seen clearly with teachers and children leading initiatives such as river restoration and waste management. Students have not only been able to link their own actions with larger social issues (visiting a nearby river, seeing it clogged with garbage, and coming back to make cloth bags to use for themselves), but have also responded to issues like sexual-harassment in the school campus itself.
Vidya Niketan is the first of the network of Akanksha schools, set up as a public-private partnership between Akanksha Foundation and Thermax Social Initiatives Foundation, both non-profits, and the Pune Municipal Corporation. Akanksha schools demonstrate that children in government schools can get access to quality education in as much, or even lower, per child cost as allocated.
*The information above is taken directly from the Ashoka India website. OH did we mention that K.C.Thackeray is an Ashoka Changemaker School? ☺
It is an amazing opportunity for us as The Red Door’s co-founder is an Ashoka India Fellow who has been eager on working with schools to look into inculcating early intervention for individual well-being in the area of mental health instead of the regular psychiatry/medicinal interventions. What is even more blessed are the range of individuals who make up The Red Door team who have been working alongside K.C.Thackeray at many different levels.
We were first called for 2 mental health interventions; a 12 year old boy who had an anxiety attack and a 16 year old girl who was being treated for bipolar disorder. Upon both interventions, our recognition of the actual issues grew more along with our ability to problem solve making the multi-layered issue hard to ignore. Shalini, the principal of K.C.Thackeray also had expressed the lack of budget for teachers, the absenteeism of teachers, and the lack of support for them.
In the process of 5 of us working with different grades, we do realize this is not a one off phase for us but a year long work we are going to be spearheading with K.C.Thackeray to creating a replicating sustainable education system that does work at teaching children and adults life skills that they can always use outside of school for life!
Each one of us are targeting the root of mental health issues that is affecting every child in this school, which is eve-teasing and bullying. No doubt, these traits are built in kids from what they see outside of school and in their homes. They do not have positive role models to work with them for long hours nor are they devoid of observing violence daily. Shalini said ‘The fact that these kids just come to school is a big thing’.
Along with that we are also assisting teachers to help those students who need to be taught differently and have different needs to be addressed during class.
WHAT IS IT THAT WE ARE DOING WITH THEM?
Introducing our first education interventionist:
1. Anomit Ghosh doing some awesome stuff with martial arts and set to change the way education is taught along with addressing social issues of bullying, violence, eve teasing, abuse, family violence, mental health and a whole lot of other things. Anomit also runs Forge Mixed Martial Arts Pune.
Meet our 2nd man!:
2. Ashwin Mohan teaching the boys Chi Gung. Ashwin is a Nath Yogi and Parampara Adhikari at Adesa Nath Parampara Vidyalaya. While Ashwin takes sessions with the boys, Resh takes similar sessions with the girls.
5. And the last but not the least is Trusha Dethe – the currently invisible one with no record of her work BECAUSE she has been working individually with the teachers on yoga and healing which has reduced the rate of absenteeism amongst staff.
We are all part of the Personal Healing Institute Pune & The Red Door (of course) and like Captain Planet had 5 teenagers to work for him, we are each working with our own ruling element(S) for the benefit of children, animals, adults and the planet in whole!
At the moment, KC Thackeray Vidya Niketan and The Red Door does not have the funds to support our work. But we do need travel and food allowance (at the least) to be covered (if more for our rent it would be great!) Like all teachers, we do hope to draw in an income for our basic needs.
Peace & Colour!
“Behind every child is a bully. Behind every bully is a healer. Let’s have children turn healers and not bullies.”