Published: 30th August 2020
These 19-year-old girls want to start meaningful conversations in government schools across Telangana
The four girls have visited nine schools and successfully conducted their workshops. Students also seem to have enjoyed it. Now, owing to the pandemic, they are planning virtual events. So stay tuned
When four 19-year-olds sit together and talk, where do you expect the conversation to go? Lessons, love, latest crushes? But when Jaya Sree Chinthala from Nandyal, Polisetty Bhoomika from Nagarkurnool, Anusha Barka from Hyderabad and Rampally Vaishnavi from Medak — all students of Narayana IAS Academy — got together, they spoke about how impressionable children between the age of six to 12 really are, drawing from their own experiences as well as what they were seeing around them. "So it is the right time to really talk to them about the issues that matter, namely cleanliness, environment, career, gender discrimination and more," explains Bhoomika. But they knew that the kids today are smart, they can't just turn up with a monologue and expect children to have a change of heart. So, they turned to the power of video and engagement tools like various competitions.
The four girls | (Pic: Stepchange Initiative)
Last year, Vaishnavi set out to a district government school in Medak to speak about menstruation and health. The second school was Prism The School in Nagarkurnool, which Bhoomika visited. See what they are doing here? They use the connections of their native place to talk to the management of the schools and deliver workshops. "Basically, in any which way, we wanted to assure them that the children have our moral support and, at the same time, make them aware of what's happening around us," shares Bhoomika. And that's the story of how the Stepchange Initiative came to be in June 2019. They save up their pocket money and pool it together to run the initiative.
Students planting a sapling | (Pic: Stepchange Initiative)
Wondering about the videos we mentioned? They are all DIY, well-researched videos with voiceovers from the girls and you can check them out on their YouTube channel Stepchange Initiative! What about the competitions? "It is only when we engage children that the message gets across. For example, if we conduct an environment-themed painting competition, students will start thinking about pollution, plastic and so on. We even give them cash prizes or educational material like geometry boxes or a dictionary," informs Bhoomika. They successfully carried out these workshops in nine schools.
Participants | (Pic: Stepchange Initiative)
Doesn't take much to guess that all the activities of Stepchange Initiative are currently halted because of the ongoing pandemic, but they haven't lost heart. "We conducted a poetry recitation and storytelling contest for 12 year olds. We uploaded their entries on our Instagram page and left the verdict in the hands of the number of likes their posts got," explains Bhoomika. So for now, they are racking their brains to come up with more engaging virtual contests.
Their videos are on:
- Is a society like this safe for a girl child?
- Farmers: The backbone of our country
For more on them, check out instagram.com/stepchange05