Wizkids 2006: the process, from the workshop to the Children’s Charter Writing
The Indian Charter team, in collaboration with Activity, an edutainment company, in a six-month-long process, has successfully facilitated to draft the Indian Children’s Charter of Social and Environmental Responsibilities. This process was also India’s largest literary & cultural event, in which 1.149 schools in 25 cities participated. At the start of this mega event, 133,300 students in the age group of 8 – 16 years were involved. At each city level, preliminary selections were done through competitions in the schools. Further competition between the winners of the schools lead to the selection of two representatives of the 25 cities. 50 children gathered together for the final competition and lived a collective studious and entertaining experience in Bangalore.
The main objectives of the Indian Charter team in our collaboration with Activity is to disseminate the Charter of Human Responsibilities to the children, parents, teachers and to kindle in them the awareness of the basic human values leading to a peaceful and harmonious world. By endorsing the Charter, Activity introduces it also in the corporate sector.
The Wizkids Charter Workshop - 10th & 11th November 2006
Amidst the bright and multicolored ambience of lush bougainvillea bushes and beautifully designed garden paths, children were seen studiously conversing with each other in a lofty mood. A bright blue sky added to the contemplative yet exciting spirit of the gathering. The buildings of the venue had been aesthetically conceived to blend perfectly with the trees, the bushes and the great variety of flowers, the entire place breathed with an incomparable originality of its own. Such an ideal and natural setting was an eloquent demonstration that the best environment for study should always inspire harmony and happiness. And no doubt, all the children were beaming with an inner contentment and their gate was the expression of an obvious exaltation, the exaltation produced by living the last days to of a six month of an exceptional adventure.
The Proceedings of the Workshop
The main conference hall of the School is a spacious and bright room where a soft ambient light filters through elegantly designed stain glass windows. All the children and the staff of Activity had gathered quietly and were sitting orderly in two main groups of senior and junior participants. The expression on their faces and their composed attitude was a living token of their real concern and commitment for what was going to follow.
The workshop started with a brief introduction of the Charter by Sudha. During the first phase of the workshop, the children were introduced to the history of the Charter and explored its relevance in the social and environmental context of today’s world and its ethical and psychological relation to the Charter of the Human Rights. Dr. Jean Letschert, with his creative pedagogic way of communication with children, focused the attention of the participants on the evolution of both the social and environmental degradation of the last two centuries and how the irresponsible attitude of mankind can be viewed as the source of many injustices and evils. A short interaction with the children showed that most of them were well informed about the various woes and wrongs prevailing in the present world, while some of them came up with very relevant local examples which confirmed that they did not only approach the subject merely superficially but went into the heart of the matter.
After this introduction the members of our team organized the children in five groups. Each group included a mix of boys and girls, both senior and junior. The purpose of forming these smaller groups was to facilitate the presentation by each student of his/her notion of individual and collective responsibilities which he/she had prepared during the weeks preceding the workshop in a personal charter, and gradually guide the children of each group to come up with a summary of the discussion constituting the Charter of the group. Each group moved to an isolated spot in the vast garden of the School.
It was very interesting to discover the diversity of concerns and issues that had been analyzed by the children, often mentioning very local and specific examples to illustrate issues of a global character. In some of the groups the discussion was followed by a brainstorming on the essential items highlighted in the individual charters of each one. It was also significant to notice how certain local issues which influenced the children’s concern (example of corruption, the problem of dowry, the contamination of ground-water related to the pesticides found in soft drinks, etc) influenced also the formulation of each group’s version of the charter. In each group, minimum two children were jointly selected to represent the group and, as a conclusion, a new charter was drafted, summing up the group discussion. The five facilitators of our team were Dr. Jean Letschert, Dr. Jeevan Kumar, Melany, Deepa, John Anugraha, and Sudha.
The groups’ discussions lasted for about one hour. When the children reassembled in the conference hall, five drafts had been prepared by the groups. This was a moment of great exaltation and collective enthusiasm. Last consultations were still going on within some of the groups, as each one expected their approach to prevail in the mind of each and all.
Out of the discussions, emerged two slogans:
Out of these two slogans the children decided to give the preference to the second one.
After the children had prepared the final draft of their Charter, some time was spent for sharing with them the Brazilian Children Charter of Environmental Responsibilities. They were pleasantly surprised and glad to realize that there are also children on the other side of the world who have similar concerns and willingness to assume responsibilities for the future of their lives and the safeguard of our planet.