In today’s times, slam poetry and music are considered to be powerful platforms for growing social consciousness and societal change. Yet, in many ways, this medium remains largely an untapped resource. While it continues to find its feet, there are budding social entrepreneurs who are reviving this medium to create awareness and propel social change.
With the rise of multi-media platforms online – there is no denying the obvious opportunity for greater sharing and momentum, and there is no better place to start than with children.
Salm Out Loud and Manzil Mystics – both Delhi-based social organisations are encouraging children and young adults to voice their opinions, express their emotions and become catalysts for social change in the country.
I. Slam Out Loud
Situated in Delhi, Slam Out Loud is the result of two socially inclined and entrepreneurial minds – Gaurav Singh & Jigyasa Labroo. With a vision that “Every individual will have a voice that empowers them to change lives,” they work at the intersection of art, education and leadership development by bringing the transformational power of the arts to disadvantaged children.
Through the art forms of poetry, storytelling, theatre and visual arts, they build in children socio-emotional learning and relevant life-skills. So far, they’ve worked with 100 artists and 6500 children across India.
They have identified 3 problem areas in the current education system that hinder holistic growth simply because it is primarily focused on reading, writing and reproducing the content. Such a system does not:
– Empower children to solve their own problems and hinders their ability to emerge as leaders with a voice
– Encourage them to think of solutions to global problems like climate change, threats to democratic institutions, widespread sexism and local problems
– Equip them with foresight for the challenges of the 21st century or even making an informed choice
To bridge this gap, they designed the Jijivisha Fellowship for children (9 years and above) who are either going to school or are dropouts. The Jijivisha Fellowship invites committed and engaged artists to join their program. The fellows comprise of working professionals, college students and professional artists from diverse age groups. These fellows are then mentored by eminent artists from their respective fields to sharpen their skills and refine their talent. Post the mentorship, each fellow is placed in at-risk communities to work with children and young adults for 1 year on strengthening socio-emotional learning and life-relevant skills.
Along with the Jijivisha Fellowship, Slam Out Loud has other programs that seek to bring the arts into education in other communities. One such program is The Voice Project through which a specific social need of the community is addressed using theatre as a medium. Slam Out Loud is also introducing an arts-based therapy intervention in children homes in New Delhi.
To bring the arts to children in other cities and villages, they are soon launching a tech-enabled program that can aid in art based-learning called Arts for All, through which various art forms will be digitally accessible to over one lakh children and educators in Hindi.
II. Manzil Mystics
Manzil Mystics is a Delhi-based organisation which started their journey in the field of music 8 years ago. Since none of the members got any music exposure in school or at home, the band members decided to build musical classrooms in government schools, low-income schools, and non-profits across the city. With the vision of making childhood experiences more musical and educating children through the process, Manzil Mystics registered themselves as a Trust in 2017. Using music as a medium, they hold workshops on Gender Education, Spoken English, Reproductive Health, Menstrual Hygiene, and Life Skills.
Learning Through Music (LTM) is their flagship program. Through the program, students learn how to sing, write and compose a song, but they design their activities in a way that they cover life skills education, value education, textbook History, Hindi and English. The project starts with finding, auditioning, training and placing a music facilitator in a school and ends with a showcase (Happy Concert) by the children at the end of the academic year. These workshops provide children and adults with a channel to express their hopes, ideas, happiness, anger, and frustration. LTM workshops are structured in a way to induce team-building, nurture creativity and build confidence. Currently, Manzil Mystics is working in/with 21 schools and 1300 children across Delhi NCR and working towards expanding the number to 50 schools and 5000 children in 2019
Apart from using music as a medium of education, they are working towards making music an acceptable career choice in India. They hold public and private music gatherings to help other non-profits by writing, composing and performing theme-based music. They also conduct songwriting workshops with inmates of Tihar Jail, workshops on menstrual hygiene, sanitation, empathy, women-empowerment and drug-abuse with adolescents in the poorest areas of Delhi.
“Our voice is not a crime, we are here to shine
Wait and watch our light sprinkle on you”
These are the words of Abbas,
A young rapper at Slam Out Loud.