Smoking Kills - A campaign by students in Pakistan
Please describe how your students exercised their leadership and the impact they had.
100 students broke off into groups of 7-10 and identified issues ranging from a lack of greenery in school to prevalent health problems within their community. Each group decided to tackle their issue in different ways; some plan on engaging leaders within the community, others focused their project to the school itself, and all of them actively got their families involved. While most of the groups are still in the process of executing their projects, one group recently staged their final project in front of the entire school of more than 800 students and teachers.
The students independently organized and executed a skit. For a group of children, none of whom have ever attended a theatrical production let alone taken part in one, to write the script for a play, direct it, and rehearse it entirely on their own was a sight to behold. Their play, titled "Smoking Kills" used a simple story line to convey the ill-effects of smoking and the important role that family members can play in stopping detrimental behaviors. They also used their time on stage to point out the school canteen's stocking of betel nut, also known to be cancerous, and urged the Principal to stop this practice.
What role did you play in supporting your students’ leadership?
My Co-Fellow, Fiza Miraj, and I realized that the only way their Fellowship would leave a sustainable impact in their community was to empower our students with problem-solving and leadership skills. To this end, we arranged workshops in Intelligence School, Sultanabad, Karachi, that required the students to design and execute interventions in their school and community.
Although there were many improvements that could be made to the play with our involvement, nothing could surpass the sense of possibility that the students demonstrated through their project and the precedent that they set in the school for student-led activities.
It is with great anticipation that we look forward to some of the other projects that are still in the works: "Magic Library Books", which aims to establish a fully functional, student-operated library, "Green Plants for Health", where students intend on planting barren school grounds with trees and plants, and "The Cleanliness Drive" which creates student-led systems to ensure greater cleanliness within the school, among others.
What did you and your students learn in this activity that will endure beyond today?
The students learnt that, with enough effort, they could change the minds of the school administration. the workshops we designed were developed for this purpose; to empower students and enable them to initaite change in their context and solve the problems they face on their own.