Paving way for empathetic, conscious citizens: International Changemaker Olympiad
Founders Rahul Adhikari and P. Sai Sindhu of the International Changemaker Olympiad (ICO) have one thing in common: Their passion to make a change in society by nurturing young minds to become conscious citizens. The winners of the Young Social Entrepreneurs (YSE) organized by the Singapore International Foundation spoke to NewsBytes about their social enterprise and the need to inculcate awareness in young minds.
ICO works toward sensitizing young minds to real-world issues
Adhikari feels that growing inequality, political polarization, climate change have all made the need for changemakers inevitable. However, he observes that there are very few people who are empathetic toward the world's problems. He also notes how the education system fails to sensitize children to real-life situations. To overcome this, ICO took shape with a vision to empower children to act on world problems.
The social enterprise comprises various student-led initiatives
ICO stays true to its vision of encouraging young minds to solve social and environmental problems. The initiatives are completely owned by students, who receive expert guidance from time to time. There is also an element of experiential learning in the programs that helps children imbibe skills such as empathy, leadership and teamwork by exposing them and encouraging them to solve real-world problems.
Students are urged to develop and implement solutions
At ICO, students participate in teams to identify a problem, develop a solution, implement it, and scale it over four to five months. Above all, what seems promising is the long-term behavioral change in students, wherein most of them continue working for social causes, even after the workshop. A few of them have even initiated their own organizations that work toward a particular cause.
One of the success stories is that of Team Plasion
There are many proud stories for ICO and one of the memorable ones is of Team Plasion, a group of 12-year-olds. When the children learned about the huge amount of plastic waste produced each year, they gave birth to a unique idea of recycling dry plastic into pillows and cushions. What's more? They have successfully sold more than 75 pillows and cushions, to date.
Students also took initiatives to help their underprivileged peers
Another heart-warming initiative was by Team Calm Me Down, where a group of 15-year-olds, after noticing the mental health of teenagers, began conducting anger management workshops. The children underwent several workshops and counselling sessions, which eventually helped them to reflect on their behavior and supported them in changing unhealthy habits. This successful initiative has helped more than 50 underprivileged teenagers of two orphanages.
Winning YSE will enable the team to expand their wings
After their recent win at YSE, ICO will receive funding of up to SGD 20,000. The duo says that the platform has given them an opportunity to learn from social impact leaders and to meet like-minded social entrepreneurs. The team plans to utilize the funding to scale up their new program - fundraising challenge and to develop online programs for children. Cheers to them!