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Launch of PACS Youth Campaigns

23 January 2015 Share: facebook share twitter share

On Friday 23 January, PACS and partner Pravah launched two youth initiatives to address social exclusion – Changelooms and the Bas.Stop campaign. The launch event at Vishwa Yuvak Kendra in New Delhi was bursting with colour, creativity and passion. As Mashall Elliott, the Head of DFID India, said "I've never seen so much energy!"

Inclusion starts with I

The event began at 3pm, hosted by Pravah. It started by giving the 500 attendees an introduction to Changelooms - a leadership journey for 100 young people who want to lead social change initiatives that address social exclusion within their communities.

"Inclusion starts with I," said team members from Pravah as they explained how the Changelooms journey encourages the 100 young "Changeloomers" to explore their leadership potential, starting from within. By first identifying their own strengths, fears and motivations, they can use this knowledge to help them to become better leaders and bring about social inclusion.

Guest speaker Stalin K from Video Volunteers inspired the attendees with his speech about the importance of having energy and creativity to change the world. "You should have passion in what you do. Do something that is from your heart and that you enjoy doing."

Meet the Changeloomers

From 4pm-5pm attendees had the opportunity to meet the Changeloomers. All 100 of them had been asked to explain their projects and visions for social inclusion in a creative way. Guests wandered round stalls, chatting to the Changeloomers about their initiatives and being inspired by their passion, enthusiasm and creativity.

Some of the Changeloomers, like Arpana, chose to explain their projects through models. Arpana is working with a women’s self-help group (SHG) in her village in West Bengal, helping them to start a fishing project to provide them with extra income.

Some Changeloomers chose to organise activities or games. At this stall participants were asked to choose a photograph of someone and then, based only on their physical appearance, make a judgement about their religion, gender, job, age and where they came from. At the end players were challenged: "Is it right to make judgements like these based only on appearance?"

Another game involved throwing a dice and then answering the question on the side that it landed upon. Questions included: "Share a time where you included someone…" "What does an inclusive society mean to you?" and "What is one thing you can do to be more inclusive?"

Another activity involved choosing a statement - such as "Women are supposed to look pretty", "Men are good at maths" and "Women are responsible for raising children" - and then popping a balloon whilst saying "I do not believe that…"

Launching the Bas.Stop campaign

The third part of the event involved launching the Bas.Stop campaign - an innovative mobile campaign on wheels that is calling on young people in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh to "Stop Discrimination Right Now".

The bus was launched by Marshall Elliott - Head of DFID India - who was very impressed by the creative initiative. He got on board the bus, taking the chance to sit in the driver's seat and sound the horn. He said, "Let's take the voice of inclusion to as many people as possible."

Flooding India with light

Having launched the Bas.Stop campaign, Marshall Elliott (Head of DFID) then went on to give a speech to all the attendees. He was bowled over by the enthusiasm and passion of the young people he had met - "I've never seen so much energy" - and talked about his vision for a more equal world: "Through these initiatives you are helping make a change and bring about equality for all."

Special guest Dr Belinda Bennet (CEO for Change Alliance) then spoke about the discrimination she had faced: "When I was 19 I applied to study for my MPhil at the University of Bangalore. My teacher had not given me a recommendation letter. He said "You're taking away an opportunity from a boy in the class", and so I travelled on my own on a night bus, turning up without a recommendation… and I got selected." She ended her speech by saying, "Leonard Cohen sung "There is a crack in everything that lets the light in." And you're going to flood India with your light."

Finally, Frederika Meijer (India Representative for the United Nations Population Fund) stood up to share some of her dreams for social inclusion. “My dream is that we have a world full of diversity," she said. "Most of the time we discriminate against someone who's different. But diversity and difference should be encouraged."

The evening ended with musical performances by the Manzil Mystics - one of the Changelooms projects - and a live performance of Kabir songs. The Manzil Mystics' lyrics about social change and inclusion inspired many of the audience members to get up and dance, as they were caught up in the incredible energy of the event and the hope for change.

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