By Chhavi Khandelwal, Manasi Mehan and Aayush Bansal
We are Chhavi Khandelwal, Manasi Mehan and Aayush Bansal, and together we founded Saturday Art Class. This initiative is a school-based intervention which leverages domestic and international art to address the void of social and emotional learning that exists in India’s government and affordable private schools.
It’s been an overwhelming journey for us to say the least. We started Saturday Art Class as a project in Manasi’s Teach for India Grade 3 classroom in 2017 with the belief that every child, no matter their background, deserves a holistic education with equal opportunities and space for expression. Today we have cumulatively worked with over 5500 children across 15 partner institutions with the help of 1200 mentors (our volunteers).
We have always believed that an idea is as big as the people it can engage, and at Saturday Art Class we have been able to engage a wide community of like-minded individuals, irrespective of age and professional backgrounds, who aim to deliver a sustainable impact by showing their support and volunteering in our classrooms as Mentors and Coaches.
We realised that our idea was relatable to the youth and we felt the need to mobilise them in solving the problem of education inequality and inequity at the grassroot level of our country. We ensured that our programme is scalable and accessible to working professionals and college students. These coaches and mentors have now become the vehicles of conducting our programme in schools, essentially working for change. To have a network of individuals not only believe but also work towards carrying out our vision, makes us proud to be a part of a generation that is committed to social good. In addition, seeing impact stories of children in the programme, observing the positive changes in them through our intervention validates its need more each year, gives us the encouragement we need to move forward.
At Saturday Art Class our vision is to have a world where all children can thrive and not just survive; they have a voice which they are confident and fearless to express and are empathetic responsible citizens of the country, who have the tools to face the future.
In order to enable our vision, our mission is to develop Social Emotional Learning (SEL) in children from low income communities, through art, by complementing the formal education system. Over the next 5 years we want to impact 12,000 children from low-income communities not just in Mumbai but also branch out to other metropolitans in India by leveraging the immense support we have received from within the community, our students, their parents and schools, institutions and the youth.
To conclude, we would like to say that it’s education that takes us into the future, and creativity and free expression is as important as literacy. The children of today will become the youth of tomorrow and it is our task to educate them not only to pass examinations but also to face the future sustainably.