To celebrate and explore the potential of student leadership, Teach For All is collecting and sharing stories from across the network and around the globe. When students LEAD, we all LEARN.

Enseña por Colombia

Ten Virus. Contagious change

Student Leaders
Members of "Young people from Chigorodó thinking differently"
Adult Supporter
Laura Natali Borda Aguirre
Age of Students
12- 20

Please describe how your students exercised their leadership and the impact they had.

Ten Virus was an initiative moved by 25 students from different schools who started by getting together after school to dance, act, play and speak about Chigorodó's realities. This small town is part of Urabá, one of the most affected regions in Colombia by civil war, violence, inequality and drug trafficking. After 6 months they came up with the idea of picking 10 issues that were in the way of them and their dreams. IIegal guerrilla recruiting, illegal drug use, early pregnancy, lack of colleges and superior education opportunities, poverty, revenge, violence, alcohol abuse, lack of art clubs; were the issues they wanted to address.

They started with an expectative campaign saying "we already got the virus, your next". By filling the walls with a virus cartoon they wanted to make people aware something was happening and the objective was to give them the Change virus, the reconciliation virus, the peace virus.

Then they started creating flash mobs, urban interventions, public meetings, garage sells, giveaways, followed by a series of murals to make people speak about this issues and address them.

To finance this they went to the town hall, stood in front of the political leaders and told their idea. I remember one f my students saying "you've spent an hour saying what's wrong with young people's situations in town, we need 1 min to give you a solution". At the end they got from the Health Care office a budget of 2.500USD and support for transportation and food.

We also traveled to a town 2 hours from Chigorodó to participate for 500USD in an "Ideas for change" competition. We won.

The execution lasted for 6 months with 6 hours work during the week and an intervention per weekend that lasted between 8 to 12 hours. They finished with a free concert for everyone with the performance of a Chigorodó singer who told his story and talked about his own journey around these issues.

This group of kids dedicated their time to this project because they believed in their own power to change their reality, to speak up, to make adults sit together to talk and solve, with their participation, the obstacles they face to be happy and impact others lives.

What role did you play in supporting your students’ leadership?

My role was getting them together, looking for meeting places, get permits from schools, meeting parents, search for opportunities of funding and facilitating the creative processes.

What did you and your students learn in this activity that will endure beyond today?

The biggest lesson is they realized through experience they can be part of change, they made adults tell their stories, clean their hearts, talk about difficult situations. They got politicians to put money from their pockets for their cause, they inspired others, they even made town more beautiful trough their murals. Now walls talk. Thy understood the power of collective impact and lived in their skin they can achieve amazing things for themselves and others.