An interview with the Change Makers – Project KHEL & Life Skills

The above article appeared on  “Kiddy Diaries” (http://kiddydiaries.com/interview-change-makers-project-khel-life-skills/) on Sep 18, 2016

Meet Angana Prasad, 27, a core team member of Project KHEL since 2012. She is behind designing, initiating and leading the Menstrual Health Management (MHM), Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) and Puberty related programmes. A certified life skill trainer and a storyteller at heart ( May be attend her session once, you will know what we are talking about) and always full of life – is also actively  engaged in curriculum development based on play, theater, discussions, craft and various other creative means. She keeps inventing and exploring newer forms of art. She also facilitates various external workshops and trainings for other organizations and institutions.

On a more serious note, Project KHEL has been the ultimate test of everything that I thought I was or I thought I knew. The kind of space the work culture here provides and the kind of trust the team shows for each ideas is beyond words. For this of course I’d give all credits to our Founder, Akshai Abraham, who has been the strongest anchor keeping all of us ro2-kiddydiariesoted and focused. When I see him keep his team and his children in the limelight and himself diligently working behind the scenes, it is an inspiration that nothing else can provide. Through my work here at Project KHEL, I have got the opportunity to interact with a number of people and organizations and I say this with great pride that nowhere have I seen people live up to 100% of their statement that “ITS ALL ABOUT KIDS”. And as much as credits go to the Founder to be able to put together a team like this, full credits to the team as well to continue to keep their hearts at the right place and push themselves to read a little more and work a little harder to provide the best to our children.

While the above has been about the team, Project KHEL is absolutely nothing without it’s children. Today we are meeting 1500+ underprivileged children semi-weekly for our programme on life skills education. Each one of them has so much to offer. They have taught me what life is.

In one recent session, we asked the children where Indian is a free country, one child disagreed and said that her grandfather gets to travel and move out of the house but the grandmother is not “allowed” the same. Another child said that India will become free when children like his friend Manish, who helps his father, a dhobi, before and after school, attends to school regularly and also does his homework in time has to stop working and only study and play!

Which cities have you covered so far.

Our programme Made in Maidaan has been operating in and around Lucknow specifically and we do not wish to take it beyond Uttar Pradesh at the moment. However, for our workshop based programmes, we have led successful sessions in Delhi, Ahmedabad, Varanasi, Jaunpur, Mirzapur and Sonbhadra.

What is the response that you have been getting from people?

People have been extremely appreciative and supportive of the manner in which we are meeting our development goals. The fact that we are facilitating education through play, with the children not even realizing how much they are learning, is something that most people have found commendable. Another fact appreciated by some of our social media supporters is that despite working with child labors, some of who have the darkest experiences that we can’t even imagine, till date, we have never shared a sad story or raised funds through them. We have always celebrated love, happiness and positivity in the way we have interacted with the children and the manner in which we talk about them on social media and elsewhere.

How can we (Kiddy Diaries & its members) help you promote the cause?

We love the concept of Kiddy Diaries. Here are a few things that we would love if your journal and your readers could promote Play time among their children:

–          Let your child play OUTSIDE your house as much and as long as possible

–          Limit their online/gadget time as far as possible and let them sit on the roof or in the garden and absorb as much as they can from what they see around them.

–          If your colony park doesn’t allow children to play in them, then please stand up for your children’s play time, because parks are meant for them and not for us to beautify and catch up for our dose of morning and evening gossips.

Apart from this, you guys could also invite us over to run discussion sessions with parents, specifically of adolescent children, as our expertise lies in understanding and working with them. Also, our workshops on Child Sexual Abuse and Menstrual Hygiene are delivered in a very fun way, that children don’t just get educated about both topics and learn how to deal with them, but owing to the interesting delivery format their retention of the information shared is a lot higher than the lecture or video format.

Experiential Learning in your language.

Experiential Learning is what we believe is the best way to educate a child, where one goes through an experience and we guide them to reflect upon it and improve on what they feel they should and continue to do what they feel they did well. One common example we’ve grown up listening to is that you tell a child that an iron is hot, they might listen but not remember but when they touch it once, they’ll know for the rest of their lives that hot irons are not to be touched. This is pretty much what experiential education is. Let children make their own mistakes, because no matter how hard we try we might not be able to control it but we can definitely ask a series of questions and help our children understand what they did was right or wrong and how could they have behaved better.

What are the current programmes running?

While ‘Made in Maidan harnesses the ‘Power of Play’ for development through a series of modules designed to impart crucial Life Skills Education (LSE) though experiential learning and activity based learning models, Red Spot is an inclusive initiative that empowers adolescent girls through activity based workshops on understanding and revaluing menstruation as a clean and natural biological process. They prepare pre-teens for menstruation and also have been helping young men to understand menstruation and be empathetic and supportive of menstruating women. Have reached out 2420 adoloscents girls and women and 500 men through 40+ sessions till date.

AB BAS! came from a session with 5 year olds, who were asked to read what was projected on the screen, resulting in- “Child Seksal Ab-bas”. The words “Ab bas” sounded just so correct for this issue. There has been enough of preying on little children and enough of keeping quiet, Ab BAS. Teen Talks is a forum on open discussion with teenagers ranging on a variety of topics, from puberty to health and safety related ones.

justKhelo is a weekend volunteering programme for people who are otherwise busy in the weekdays. Volunteers for this programme can sign up for sessions where they do not need to follow any curriculum but only spend time with children from slums, enjoying themselves and making the kids enjoy too.

The aim is to add to the play hours of every child in Lucknow that we can reach out to.