In what could be termed as a unique effort, a Bihar-based trust is imparting the valuable asset of education to children in the most innovative and fun way.
Founded in 2012, Happy Horizons Trust believes in empowering the youth by training them to engage with children through story-telling.
Kshitiz Anand and Vatsala, the founders embarked upon this journey in 2012. Their trust empowers young girls by offering them fellowships, where they are taught the basic skills of storytelling, art and craft and other similar activities.
“We had always believed in storytelling as an integral part of our culture. In today’s times, we found it to be missing and thought it would be a great idea to engage with children in that way. Through our teaching, the children were inspired and became more curious” says Kshitiz.
Instead of engaging in regular classroom teaching modules and learning, the trust employs other innovative ideas to teach.
Their primary method is story-telling, as it delights the children. Moreover, little kids are also more attracted towards learning, as it is made a lot more fun. Their other modules include art and craft techniques.
“Since it was not always possible for us to personally engage in the work, we decided to engage young girls to interact with the children. Hence, we designed a youth leadership development programme wherein girls from high school were selected and trained in ways to engage better with children. The trained girls (called champions) are later teamed up with particular schools. So each of these champions, are given an annual scholarship, in which they have to go to schools and engage with children through story-telling. The basic idea is to engage children and have fun with them”, adds Kshitiz.
Happy Horizons believes in making study look and sound more fun, therefore their art and craft themes revolve around delightful topics. Stories of Indian culture and festivals are narrated to the children.
“Apart from storytelling, we have other modules like various exercises related to reading and writing, personality development and art and craft activities”, says Vatsala.
Over a period of five years since its inception, Happy Horizons has received tremendous response from the children. They look forward to learning and engaging with the champions and are too excited to hear the stories and participate in other activities.
The trust has a rigorous selection process for the champions. The first step involves a written test, in which the girls are required to write a brief essay on any given topic. The second step accesses the oratory skills, followed by public reading. The next step is a group discussion after which selected candidates are shortlisted for a round of personal interview. The last stage is perhaps the most important step, where the parents of the selected girls are called for an interview. Their concerns, queries are also attended by the founders in this round. On the due completion of all the steps, the girls are finally selected.
The current faculty comprises of seven full-time employees, 10 volunteers and 14 champions.
Although the trust does not have any government support as of now, they have the full support of local administration and authorities. They are also supported by a few NGOs, like Teach for India. Wipro has also helped the foundation to grow.
The couple believes in making children happy through the sheer joy of creating something or making something happen.
“We feel that if we empower the girls till the time they complete their graduation, it is a big win for us. We are happy that they become more confident and get trained in such a manner that they are easily offered jobs as primary school teachers”, adds Kshitiz.
Moreover, the girls are aware of the fact that they have a support system(us) and they feel more confident and strong. It is not a mainstream teaching job; they are required to engage with children and have fun”, says Kshitiz.
“We feel happy to empower them in through this way. Both the children and the champions learn something”, he concludes.