Published: 01st March 2020
How Sucheta Bhat is making kids' work-life dreams come true will inspire you
Suchetha Bhat, CEO of Dream a Dream speaks about an organisation that focuses on training youngsters in life skills, about helping kids achieve their dreams and bringing mindfulness in children
After more than a decade of helping children and youngsters learn life skills, the NGO Dream a Dream, from Bengaluru has been successful in impacting millions. Suchetha Bhat, Chief Executive Officer, Dream a Dream, who has seen the positive transformation in children and youngsters, says, "We never thought about impacting millions of lives through our programmes. It is true that everyone needs to be prepared to face an unpredictable future in this fast-changing world and that is what we are trying to do. By helping them improve communication skills, critical thinking and more, we are making them both work-ready and life-ready." Excerpts from the interview:
1. Tell us the story behind starting Dream a Dream.
Dream a Dream was started in 1999 by 12 volunteers who came together from different backgrounds to work for underprivileged children. When we started out, volunteering as a concept was not known to many people. We used to visit orphanages, donate books, visit government schools and take students out for a picnic, play games with them and so on. During this phase, we noticed that spending time with these kids impacted their mental growth and brought about positive behavioural changes. Children started focusing on studies or doing what they liked to do. That's how Dream a Dream was founded by Vishal Talreja.
2. Tell us about your most recent projects that have been implemented in schools.
We have been working with seven different states across India and we have different programmes for children as well as youngsters. After School Life Skills Programme, Career Connect, Teacher Development and Volunteer Engagement are some of the programmes that have been running for the past few years, but the latest one is the Happiness Class that was introduced in government schools of Delhi last year. We have been an active part of this project as we designed the curriculum that creates mindfulness, self-awareness, inculcated skills like critical thinking and inquiry, enabled learners to communicate effectively and helped them apply life skills to deal with real problems. And these classes have had a huge impact as they have brought about behavioural changes among students from classes I to VIII. The same Happiness Curriculum has been implemented in Uttarakhand as well but it varies as per the region and the needs of the children and the challenges that they face.
3. Care to share a success story with us?
Yes, there are many success stories from schools and one of them is about a hockey player. A few years ago, when we implemented a sports programme in government schools, a class VIII student injured one of the other players by hitting him with a hockey stick out of sheer anger. At the end of the game, the coach decided to give him ten balls that he needed to score with. Every day, he would hit ten balls and his anger was eventually channelised. The boy went on to become one of the best strikers. There are many such stories about the positive changes these youngsters have gone through.
4. What is the Teacher Development programme all about?
The Teacher Development programme is all about training teachers in schools to implement the curriculum that we provide them with. It is important that teachers know life skills so that students can learn them better. They must create the right atmosphere and learning space for children. Hence, it is about building capacity among teachers so that they can bring about changes.
5. What are your future plans?
Our future plans include designing programmes that can help us prepare youngsters for the future. To make this happen, we are looking to approach different stakeholders to bring changes in policies or take the programmes to different places and help us create a greater impact. Apart from this, we want to implement more programmes like Happiness classes for children in different states.