Israeli pupils join children from around the world to Design for Change

The program is the largest global movement enabling children the opportunity to express and implement their own ideas for social change in their communities

Children participating in Design for Change in 2014 (photo credit: DESIGN FOR CHANGE)
Children participating in Design for Change in 2014
(photo credit: DESIGN FOR CHANGE)
Israeli pupils from across the country have joined children from around the world to implement social change in their communities, tackling issues such as health, poverty, violence and the environment through a unique international competition.
Design for Change, the brainchild of Indian educator Kiran Bir Sethi, is the largest global movement giving children the opportunity to express and implement their own ideas for social change.
The program operates in 34 countries and includes more than0 300,000 schools worldwide.
The project was brought to Israel by the nonprofit organization Birthday Angels, which run programs to boost self-esteem for children, in collaboration with Ruach Tova (“Good Spirit”) of the Ted Arison Family Foundation, one of the leading organizations in the field of volunteering in Israel.
“It is such an amazing project, kids all over the world are learning what it means to become official activists in such a beautiful, simple, logical system,” Ruthie Sobel Luttenberg, founder and director of Birthday Angels and initiator of Design for Change in Israel recently told The Jerusalem Post.
The program uses the simple slogan, “Feel, Imagine, Do and Share,” and challenges children from first through 12th grades to come up with ideas to better the world and to then implement these changes while documenting their progress on video.
“They set their hearts on something they want to make a difference in and they go through a process of meaningful learning,” explained Sobel Luttenberg.
As part of the project, children “feel” what is important to them and identify something that bothers them that they would like to change. They then are encouraged to “imagine” how they can go about changing what is important to them; “do,” or implement their ideas; and “share” their projects and progress with others through the competition.
“Behind ‘Feel, imagine, do, share’ is the road to self-esteem, we want children to believe in themselves to come out of the process to believe they can do anything they set their minds to and the empowerment this process gives to kids is evidence of this,” she said.
According to Sobel, the project was first brought to Israel four years ago after she was inspired by a TED talk she heard from Bir Sethi. Initially, just 15 schools participated in the program, though the project has expanded significantly since with some 300 schools participating in 2014.
“This project turns the classroom around, where the teacher is asking the questions not to get a right answer but to see how children respond and encourage them to learn and act for what they believe in,” she said. “We’ve given workshops to hundreds of teachers throughout the country in an effort to encourage them to bring this program into the classroom.”
Every year the participating students implement their projects on Good Deeds Day, which this year takes place March 15.
The teams then can submit their projects for the competition in which a distinguished panel of judges comprised of educators, designers and leading social activists choose a winning project. The team that wins first prize will go on to represent Israel internationally at the Design for Change Conference in Mexico in September.
“We want to teach the children that they can implement change, not just one day a year on Good Deeds Day, but rather every day,” Kaynan Rabino, VP of Vision Ventures of the Ted Arison Family Foundation told The Post.
“We want children to want to change, to want to be part of a better society, to see the world around them and find what bothers them and try to change this and we want them to understand that the power of one person to implement change is phenomenal,” he said.
According to Rabino, Design for Change epitomizes this notion.
“These values are what we want to instill and bring to society, and not just to Israel, but it is important to show Israel in the international competition and show the positive side of our country” he said.
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