Alohomora, a non-profit start-up, organized ‘Children for Change’ and brought together 9 progressive schools of Gurgaon and Delhi on 2nd and 3rd May at The Heritage School, Gurgaon. The 52 participants, in their schools teams, worked hard to help solve live challenges of 3 partner NGOs. Raahgiri Foundation presented the challenge of reduction of vehicular traffic to tackle congestion and pollution. Indus Action presented a challenge to change regular schools to inclusive schools to effectively implement the RTE. Khel Khel Mein presented a challenge of gender disparity and space issues in sports education in low-income schools.

This is a old news! The effervescent newness is in their vision and mission. The vision of Alohomora – to involve children in the process of social change, was initiated by with the first ‘Children for Change’ workshop. Children learn the problem solving skills and get sensitized to the social reality. They are ready to get involved in the implementation of their exciting solutions.

If you have indulged in reading the Harry Potter series, then you might as well know what ‘Alohomora’ means! It’s the ‘Unlocking Charm’. Unlocking a child’s mind and potential is the crux of Alohomora’s mission.

Talking about the event, one of Alohomora’s founders and the visionary behind this initiative, Divakar Sankhla said that the format of the challenge was a 2 day long workshop cum competition. The children learnt the problem solving skills using the ‘Design Thinking Framework’. The students from different schools learnt the framework through exciting activities which helped them to internalize the concepts. They then applied the framework to come up with innovative solutions to the problems they were working on.

The first day started with an inspiring keynote from Smriti Jain, co-founder of ‘I am a Teacher‘. Ashmeet Kapoor, Founder and CEO of a for-profit social organization – ‘I Say Organic’, led the first session on the Design Thinking Framework. To understand the Design process, children thought of ideas to make building blind friendly. They went around blindfolded to experience the challenges of the blind people, firsthand. Through the day they worked with the NGO partners and the design mentors to deeply understand the challenge and design a solution.

The second day started with an exciting activity led by Abhishek Choudhary, Co-founder of Saajha to make as many paper boats using limited resources. It drove home the point of effective utilization of resources and collaborating with all stakeholders. Much frantic activity followed to finish up their action plans, prepare their presentations and be ready for the panel of judges. The judges came from diverse fields of entrepreneurship, sports, corporate marketing and activism. The quality of ideas and the detailed plans amazed the judges as well.

Talking more about the initiative, Divakar Sankhla added, “We took a lot of video feedback and the evidence overwhelmingly suggests that we were successful in our core agenda – sensitizing high school children from progressive schools and involving them in the process of social change. Most of students felt that initially they did not understand the social issue deeply and after 2 days of competition they felt motivated and empowered to bring about a social change. And, it did stop here. The 3 winning teams bagged summer internships with the partner organizations to actually implement their ideas during summer vacations. The implementation phase will bring a new set of challenges and learning’s for the 3 teams that stood out at the competition. We felt a sense of achievement and this is the beginning a greater mission for all of us at Alohomora.”

Alohomora! The journey has just begun. The unlocking continues…

Divakar Sankhla is the Co-founder of Alohomora. He is an MBA from IIM, Lucknow and an electrical and electronics engineering graduate from IIT, Madras. He quit his high paying job at Citibank to pursue his dream of working with children in the field of education. He can be reached on his email [email protected]

Disclaimer: “The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and they do not reflect in any way those of the institutions to which he is affiliated, or the publication, or any of the members of the publication or its parent organization. is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of and does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.”

Image Credits: “Except where noted, the images in this article remain the exclusive property of and unauthorized use of these images is expressly prohibited. If you wish to use an image from this editorial, please contact team via [email protected] for permission.