This Organization Teaches Children How to Change the World

Design for Change is the largest global movement driven by children who believe that 'every child can'

Aug 22, 2019

When Kiran Bir Sethi dreamt up Design for Change in 2009, she had no way of knowing just how successful her movement would become. What began as a small educational non-profit in India only 10 years ago, has now grown into a massive worldwide movement to teach our children the tools they need to change the world.

The idea behind Design for Change is that while our classic school system believes that children are the future, we also teach them that ‘ONE day’ they will grow up and make the world a better place.

But by waiting for that mysterious far-away day in the future, we are losing sight for what is truly important: to help our children “become creative, proactive, empathetic and responsible citizens,” who can change the world every single day. This, according to Design for Change, resulted in children graduating with the ‘I CAN’T’ mindset.

Instead, the movement instills an ‘I CAN mindset’ – one that teaches children that they are “not helpless,” that “change is possible,” and that “they can drive it.”

Kiran Bir Sethi knew that, if young people were empowered, they could design a better world. She partnered with leading experts from the Stanford Design School and IDEO - an international design and consulting firm - to launch the very first design thinking guide for young people across India.

This guide, which is at the basis of the Design for Change curriculum, introduces children to the FIDS Framework:
Feel: Students identify problems in their classrooms, schools, and communities. Students observe problems and try to engage with those who are affected, discuss their thoughts in groups, and vote on an idea.
Imagine: Students envision and develop creative solutions that can be replicated easily, reach the maximum number of people, generate long-lasting change, and make a quick impact.
Do: Students develop a plan of action to effect change. This includes planning, implementing, and later recording the process.
Share: Students submit their stories to DfC through text, photos, video, or slideshows and are encouraged to do so with other schools in the community and local media, as well.

With this framework, the DfC team supports educators and mentors in their own design thinking journey through a combination of training and tools. The organization wants to equip educators with the knowledge they need to implement the DfC methodology with their students and, in turn, help them fulfill their potential.

Any school or educational program, no matter for what ages or in which location can become part of the DfC program. The program is completely free for participants and runs individually and independently at the country-level in all of the 65+ countries and regions that have opened their own DfC chapter.

Goodnet spoke with Ayana Shechtman, the Administrative Coordinator for Design for Change Israel, who told us about the organization’s work and achievements.

Design for Change Israel, or Yotzrim Shinui as it is called in Hebrew, was founded in 2012 and is run as part of the Ted Arison Family Foundation - a philanthropic non-profit organization that works in Israel to promote an improved social environment, giving back to society, and a commitment to improving the human surroundings.

Just as its parent organization, DfC Israel started with humble beginnings, working with just 20 schools and roughly 300 children. Over the years, however, it has grown into a major player, and today provides its curriculum to over 15,000 students in more than 600 schools.

"DfC Israel offers three different levels of its program to participating schools," Shechtman explained. Teachers and schools can choose whether they simply want to receive guidance and materials for their students, personalized guidance and more in-depth explanations, or become part of the full year-long curriculum that provides extra courses for teaching staff on how to implement the DfC philosophy in their classroom.

DfC encourages students to identify a challenge, be it big or small, in their community and come up with a way of solving that challenge. These projects can range from making a pocket for their school’s janitor to keep his keys in, to inventing a new device to help people with visual impairments navigate the world. Since DfC Israel works with all age groups from all parts of Israeli society, the ideas and projects are just as diverse as the children thinking them up.

Once a year, Design for Change Israel holds a convention and invites all projects that took part over the year to participate and present their ideas. The best and most impactful ideas are then chosen, and the groups that thought them up are sent to the International Design for Change Summit, where they meet winners from all other countries that have local DfC chapters.

The International convention marks a three-day event full of learning, presenting and exchanging ideas, and widening the students’ horizons.

In the 10 short years since its inception, Design for Change has made an incredible impact on thousands of children, who all learned a priceless lesson: that they have all it takes to become creative, proactive, empathetic and responsible citizens and change the world for the better, every single day.

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DAVID RUHM, EDITOR IN CHIEF
David has a passion for languages and words, and loves to see people happy. He writes about inspiring ideas, amazing technologies and all the wonders of the world.