Dream A Dream celebrated its 11th year with its Annual Stakeholder Meeting — the Dream Celebration — on August 28 at the Seva Sadan Institute in Koramangala.
It was an evening to celebrate and reflect on achievements of the year 2009-10, to discuss the way forward, and also to acknowledge all stakeholders who have helped Dream A Dream. The event was attended by around 200 stakeholders and well-wishers.
THE AUDIENCE GOT AN OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN MORE ABOUT DREAM A DREAM'S INITIATIVES.
THEY ALSO GOT TO TAKE A CLOSE LOOK AT THE PAINTINGS BY CHILDREN.
Highlighting the importance of the relationships built with partners in different communities, she said, “Dream A Dream is growing. We have worked with 15 partners, three of which have adapted the life skills programmes and are running them on their own.”
Sneha also reported that 2,272 children were reached through different life skill programmes during the year 2009-10. More than half of these children were boys (54%), while more than 2,000 of these children received eight hours of life skill intervention each month.
“Besides our goal of reaching 6,000 children through direct implementation of life skill programmes, we hope to become a capacity building and enabling partner working with more communities and organisations," said Sneha. "We plan to train 200 Life Skill Champions to work with 400 schools to reach approximately 2.4 lakh children by 2013. We hope to establish a model that can be adopted by partners and eventually by the government. So we are currently working on building a comprehensive life skills curriculum and training modules."
THE VOLUNTEERS BEING ACKNOWLEDGED ON STAGE.
Vishal Talreja, executive director of Dream A Dream, then spoke about the challenges ahead and the need to make social change happen now.
"It’s very important not to forget the individual child in the efforts to grow and reach more children,” said Vishal. “How do we ensure the impact of programmes extends to more communities? At the same time, we need to ask ourselves what happens to the child in the midst of these goals and numbers, what happens to the individual child and their individual struggles?"
According to Vishal, the challenges of development today also arise from increased migration of families and their children to cities like Bangalore. More children are entering low income community schools and government schools that are trying to cope with limited resources and the inefficiencies in the education system. "So it becomes critical," said Vishal, "to look at ways to extend the impact of life skill programmes to more areas nationwide.”
VISHAL TALREJA ADDRESSING THE AUDIENCE.
Vishal also discussed the gaps in the education system in India. He told the audience that reports commissioned by India's HRD ministry indicate that more young adults remain unemployable despite having an education. "We need to ask ourselves why that’s happening," said Vishal. And he suggested that by encouraging life skills development in children aged six to 18 and hailing from vulnerable backgrounds can enhance employability and help them deal with challenges of daily living. "Since life skills are not an element of the education system, education in its true sense is not complete for these children," asserted Vishal.
He added, “Today it is our responsibility to build employable life skills into the education system in order to enable individuals to live with dignity and respect and be on the same platform as a person from mainstream society. If life skills become a part of the school curriculum it can create a holistic learning environment for a child. If we want to ensure that children move out of the cycle of poverty, we must make the change happen today."
Benazeer also told the audience that by nurturing children’s imagination through arts we can help them work towards their goals in life. "It’s great to see the happy faces of children when they return from life skills programmes, be it adventure, sports, arts, IT, or others," she said. "We have seen an improvement in confidence, in the ability to communicate, and in autonomy among children."