Design For Change

Design For Change

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Class of Rowdies

Reported and posted by David Wygant.

This video clip appeared on my Facebook News Feed a week ago.  Many thanks to Reena Ramanan for sharing what looks like an original post by Pranjali Madhur.  As the video clip begins, a new teacher is entering her classroom for the first time and finds the students enjoying themselves a little too much.  From that first meeting, she transforms the class and students by what she does next, and by what she doesn’t do. 

I hope you enjoy this CLASS OF ROWDIES.  

Did you identify any FEEL-IMAGINE-DO-SHARE elements?

As this video shows and tells, the education-development of our students and youth is more about setting their spirits free in a safe space then it is about anything else.  This is a universal truth that applies everywhere because all children are really the same. It is only in becoming adults that unimportant things, beliefs and biases begin to overwhelm the truth. What is the truth?  The truth is simply that we are all cut from the same cloth.  Yet, each of us have our own personal set of unlimited possibilities and potential. We can all fly if only no one will clip our wings!


Monday, November 10, 2014

Doug David - Canada
Global Catalyst

Story told by David Wygant

Author’s Note:  It is always my privilege to write the Global Catalyst stories.  Their stories are always amazing and inspiring.  As Doug tells his story, I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it with him. 

We are thankful that our Design for Change (DFC) team is both blessed and challenged by the same things at the same time.  We are thankful because sometimes in life only the challenges come without the answers and blessings.  In our case, all of us on the DFC team are full time teachers.  Finding the amount of time we’d like to dedicate to the effort can be difficult, which is our challenge.  On the other hand, we are also blessed by our full time teaching status.  Through our instruction and example as teachers, we can blend the I CAN spirit and mindset into everything we say and do.  We never lose the opportunity to integrate the “design thinking model” into all of our moments.

At this stage our fundraising is modest, but sufficient.  There is growth one step at a time, and there are blessings to count.  Any money we can raise, or that we receive, we’ve donated back to the local nonprofit organizations to help those in need and to help fund projects.  In our giving, we receive too.  Our school district has given us “release time” so that we can meet and plan as a team.  In all schools, time outside of the classroom is beyond precious.  By spending this time together, our planning is clear and focused, helping us keep forward momentum as a team.  Looking ahead, our goal is to find a way to raise enough funds so that we can bring a small group of people to Mexico for the 2015 Be the Change Conference.

We are a very motivated group.  The importance of educating both the heart and the mind is a key driver for all of us.  The rewards are huge when we see children finding meaning and purpose in their lives.  As they learn to become change makers, we see in all of them the emergence of the connection between life inside school, and life on the outside.  This process is service learning at its best.

Our most inspiring moment as a team was when we had a student showcase of all the I CAN projects designed and implemented by the students. It was in May of 2013 that over 200 Superheroes shared their stories of change.  My most personally inspiring moments occurred when I visited Ahmedabad in 2013.  At the Be the Change Conference that year I met children and adults from all over the world who shared a common inspiration, and were the most inspiring group of individuals I’ve ever met. 

Now, our vision is all forward.  We see future growth in the DFC-Canada program in our school community and beyond.  We’ve recently ordered copies of the 2014 I CAN book and plan to share them across the school district in kits that will include the Feel, Imagine, Do, Share “design thinking model.”  The kits will also include supporting documents that are meant to ignite inquiry, curiosity and design thinking around current issues like poverty, biodiversity, children's rights, and the power of the media.  

Stay tuned.  Canada is working hard, and the best is yet to come!


Doug heralds from Edmonton, Alberta in Canada.  He and his family are currently living in Courtenay, British Columbia.  

In 2013, Doug completed a Masters of Education from Vancouver Island University with a focus on Educational Leadership.  In 1997, he completed his undergraduate work at the University of Victoria with an emphasis in teaching elementary art.

Doug began teaching after he completed his undergraduate degree.  He currently works in an informal leadership role as a District Curriculum Support Teacher in School District #71 Comox Valley.  In 2014, Doug received Canada’s Prime Minister’s Award for Achievement in Teaching.

His travels have taken him to New York City, San Francisco, and to many places in his native Canada.  In 2013, he travelled to Ahmedabad, India to attend the 2013 Be the Change Conference.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

María Paula Torres Laverde - Colombia

Global Catalyst 

Story told by David Wygant

Change can be difficult, but not for Design for Change (DFC) Superheroes.  DFC Superheroes transform the world through the amazing and creative projects that they FEEL, IMAGINE, DO and SHARE.  DFC is about watching the kids learn that “they can” so that each can say I CAN, and in the end say WE DID.  These words mirror Maria’s words when she describes selecting winning projects in Colombia.  

“Every time we select the winning projects is an inspiring moment because each initiative is so amazing, creative and transformational.  They help us believe in the change.  For example, in 2012 our first year, the winning project was a project in which they recycled cooking oil from their school and turned it into handmade soap.”

Maria tells that what they have seen in Colombia, she is sure must be happening around the world.  During an eight month period of time she traveled around the world, and learned how inspiring it can be to discover and know other cultures, and how small the world really is.  

DFC offers many challenges and opportunities to grow.  She has new friends who share the same passions for helping Superheroes create a better world.  To gain all of these things, she has had to work hard.    

“Reaching out to many schools so that we can get a minimum number of projects has not been easy, but we have worked hard.  It has been a constant learning process.  “

I asked Maria about the rewards and specific learnings.

“In Colombia we are inspired learners now.  We are inspired by the children who are changing the world through DFC.  Every year we have learned something new.  There have been learnings about the projects, the calendar and timeline, and about our website and internet efforts.”

These days, Maria’s smile is a little brighter.  When asked about the future, she says, “I want to be a happy person, and do what makes me feel fulfilled professionally and personally.”  No doubt, both Maria and DFC can look forward to a bright future.


Maria currently resides in Bogota, Colombia, and was born there. She is a lawyer with a Master in Human Rights.  Her legal studies began at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogotá, Colombia.  Maria then studied  her Masters in Human Rights in Madrid, Spain, at the Carlos III University.  While in Madrid, Spain she traveled extensively in the area. 

Maria has broad international experience across several organizations including the International Organization for Migrations, the International Red Cross in Spain and the International Toledo Center for Peace.

This year’s conference, the 2014 Be the Change Conference was her first.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Natalia Allende - Chile
Global Catalyst

Story told by David Wygant

Natalia used the 2012 Be the Change Conference as her launch pad for blasting into Design for Change.  Indeed, Natalia brings the energy of a rocket to the effort and adventure, although, she credits other people for inspiring her.  In her own words, “I decided definitely to jump on board with this incredibly talented, generous and sweet team of global partners.”

More words from Natalia:  “Our inspiration grows as the children bring results and success. When we received our first batch of videos we were moved and excited by the results.  It was inspiring to see what the children in Chile had done.”

“Apart from the winning story which Semanti has brilliantly called “A CANteen for All,” there was a group that organized a network of schools and municipal entities to care for the elderly in their neighborhood.  A third group of children worked on finding a way to protect the environment in the gorgeous region of Chile where they live.”

When asked about the future, Natalia says, “How can I not think that the future for Design for Change and for Chile holds much promise?  I really want DFC Chile to grow and become strong. I really am looking forward to achieving all the things I have in mind but still have not reached.”

Natalia goes on to say that the largest challenges she and her team face are volunteer recruiting and financing.  In volunteer recruiting, the most difficult hurdle to jump over is the volunteers’ own fear and lack of confidence.  The fear of failure looms large.   Then there isn’t a financing “silver bullet” seen yet.  Nonetheless, Natalia has faith that adding up little amounts here and there from different sources:  workshops, crowdsourcing, and partnerships with bigger organizations will continue to carry the day.

In the end, she seems to just face forward and walk one step at a time.  She uses simple words to describe her solid determination:  “To be brave and to just continue doing what I’m supposed to do, when I’m in the face of difficulties.’

Bravo Natalia!

Natalia was born in Santiago, Chile and currently lives in Washington DC. She is a teacher with a Masters in Aesthetics and a Masters in Literature from American University.  Natalia worked as a teacher for 15 years in the classroom followed by several years at the Embassy of Chile in the USA.  She has spent the past five years translating, including 2 years with Design for Change.

Natalia’s travels include much of South America, the USA, Italy and India.  She has done some writing beginning with a grant to study for her Masters in Literature.  An English textbook that she and two colleagues wrote won the Chilean Government call for bids and was widely published in the Chilean public school system.

Natalia attended the Be the Change Conference in 2012 and is attending this year (2014). 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Lydia  Madyirapanze-Zimbabwe
DFC Global Catalyst

Big accomplishments begin with big goals.  Lydia is very definite when it comes to her goals.  When asked what her Design for Change goal is, she replied, “To grow Design for Change in Harare, and spread it to all provinces so that it becomes an annual event in Zimbabwe.”

Like other Design for Change programs, Lydia describes how they have to strategize and use low cost options when possible. She continues to push forward whatever steps to be taken towards having fully fledged Design for Change programs in Zimbabwe.  A new step in 2014 is seeking various kinds of support from the corporate world.

Meeting challenge has made Lydia realize the need for being innovative. She has thus drawn many lessons of out DFC. She was also excited about how girls gladly joined the boys; took up the DFC challenge and did “male dominated tasks” holding the trowel and placing sharp glasses on the wall. 

Lydia is quick to declare that she has learned that, “children can achieve more, and that communities where they live provide a lot of support and resources.” Lydia offers the following example:  “When the rest of the school gathered to see the project that they had done, they found that the children had made a plan to ensure that the wall was not a passage way out of the school, no-one could jump over it or had easy access to leave the school through the wall. Everyone remained safe inside the school.

Inspiration feeds upon itself taking us higher and higher.  It unlocks and unleashes the possibilities of human potential.  To this end, Lydia tells that her most inspiring experience to date has been, “seeing children prioritize when there are many issues and options, but yet come up with a simple yet effective method to secure the school wall.”


Lydia is currently the National Coordinator for the Forum for African Women Educationalists Zimbabwe Chapter (FAWEZI) in Harare, Zimbabwe. FAWEZI is an affiliate of the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE), a Nairobi based pan-African non-governmental organization. FAWE is a network of leading African female educationalists and researchers, among them women Ministers of Education, education planners and managers, and university Vice Chancellors.  FAWEZI’s mission is to promote gender equity and equality in education systems by fostering positive policies, practices and attitudes towards girls’ education. 

She was born in Mashonaland West Province, Zimbabwe.  Lydia holds a Master of Science Degree in Development Studies from the National University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Zimbabwe.  After 2008, Lydia joined FAWEZI and ever since, she has spent all of her time in development work.  While she has other responsibilities, Design for Change is one of her key projects, and is fully integrated into her current position.

Lydia has traveled in the following African countries:  Zambia, South Africa, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Burkina Faso and Morroco.  She has also traveled to India, attending her first Be the Change Conference in 2013.


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Carrie Tang - DFC China
Design for Change Global Catalyst

As told to David Wygant

How do you find a person who wants to bring the I CAN spirit to every kid in China?  One that is willing to do their part in reforming the education process at the same time, thereby bringing basic education to the underprivileged kids, and reformation to a system of public examination that creates great pressure and stress.

NOTE:  While on this search, don’t forget that the “dimensions” of China are almost beyond comprehension.  China is a country with a population 1.356 billion, a land area of 9,569,901 square kilometers, the third largest economy in the world behind the USA and EU, and approximately 211 million children attend school, primary through post secondary. 

Answer:  You let them find you.  Indeed, thank our lucky stars that she found herself for us.  

Let me now introduce Carrie Tang.  

Carrie is the Chairperson of the Design For Child Association and Associate Director of Playtao Education.  She publishes a free magazine called DreamMag, and volunteers with Sowergift (to spread seeds of happiness) and “Go Inside Cafe” in Hong Kong (where deaf waiters are hired). Carrie has published two books.  In 2011 she received the ATV Touching Hearts Campaign Award, followed by the Hong Kong Youth Social Entrepreneurs Award in 2013.

Carrie’s first contact with Design for Change (DFC) was at a MAD (Make a Difference) Conference in January of 2012.  Initially, she was interested in what Kiran had to say about Riverside School, but that was soon to change.  

In Carrie’s own words: “Yes, I first heard and met Kiran at the MAD conference in January 2012, but I didn't know anything about DFC. I was just attracted by her concept of Riverside school. At the conference, I didn't chat with her after her talk because of the crowd. However, later, I searched for Riverside School on the internet, and I watched her TED Talk.  At that point, I knew I must spread both her school ideas and DFC in China!”

FEEL - “Think from the heart.”

When I decided to bring DFC to China, several things spoke to me from my heart.  

I’ve always wanted to make a contribution to the birth place (China) of my parents.  We all owe much to our parents and it’s important to give back so that the “chain” isn’t broken.  I also hoped that by catching children in China in the act of doing good I might help change the view of China in other countries.  It is my hope that DFC will help build bridges with the world.  It is also important to me that I fill my life with activities that are consistent with my Christian values.  For me it feels like a “calling.”  

The most important thing is what it does for the children.  DFC builds empathy and teamwork (very weak in China) during the four steps, FEEL-IMAGINE-DO-SHARE.  These are powerful life lessons for the children to learn.

IMAGINE - “Think out of the box.”

From the beginning, using our imaginations has been critical for success.  

In China the education system is very resistant to change.  The children are busy for many hours each day.  It was impossible to add an extra class or find more time at school.  However, because social media is very popular, we used it to reach teachers, social workers and volunteers who in turn brought FEEL-IMAGINE-DO-SHARE to the kids.  Since the DFC program is “open source” and adaptable, we made it work.  It was the virtual world that brought us together.   

The amount of support DFC received from the school authorities depended on the specific cities.  We found that where they might reject a direct approach from us, if we focused on marketing and creating high quality materials, educators and policymakers would approach us instead.  In the end, sometimes there was acceptance and support, and sometimes there wasn’t.  Either way, we just kept moving ahead.  

We “imagined” three steps to help us begin:  First, I designed the DFC China website, and wrote a long “sharing letter” about my feelings toward education.  I wrote that I thought it was important to bring DFC to China.  Second, I published the “sharing letter” in Weibo (which is like Facebook in China) to look for support and connections.  I asked everyone to send me an email, and give me enough support so that I could visit them with a workshop.  Third, I built my core DFC China team.

DO - “Yes we can!”

I always think of “Soup Bowl with a Prayer” when I think of our first story.  It was really called Red Bean Share, and came out of Shanghai.  A bunch of kids thought that if the community would interact more, they would be more loving and caring.  So, they prepared red bean soup and gave it to anyone passing on the street.  When they gave the soup, they included a blessing.  In the beginning, everyone was hesitant to accept the soup, but soon more would accept both the soup and the blessing.  Through this act of giving, new connections were created.  The highlight was when the students gave greetings and love to nearly 400 staff members of Yan Yiu Factory!

The first year, a total of one thousand students became involved and created DFC stories.  We welcomed both schools and individual groups of students.

In the “DOing” we also faced challenges.  The vague and complicated laws and accounting regulations for running non-profit projects in China were the biggest challenges. 

Our first year strategy included several activities beginning with the four step process (FIDS) and a lot of passion.  We trained volunteers and restructured some of the DFC guiding materials.  Our focus was on the internet and social media.  As a result, DFC has spread to the main cities.  Now our attention has turned more toward the rural part of China.  The energy for what we do comes from our sincere and devoted hearts, and from the examples of our actions.  The energy to continue and grow has come from strangers we have met on Weibo during this entire adventure. 

Our DFC China team has eight core members including me.  We’ve recruited key volunteers as local contacts in cities (18+ now).  These volunteers promote and support the DFC tools and coordinate workshops.  One part time staff member, who is a passionate designer, is in charge of video, graphic design and promotion work. We have a bunch of regional volunteers to promote DFC for us too. 

My focus within the team is fundraising and DFC training.  Again, through social media, our story has attracted local organizations to fund and support our annual prize presentation.  Travel costs and expenses for workshops that we give are funded by the interested organizations.

SHARE - “We Can!  Now you can too!”

There have been many ups and downs.  

Looking back now, the first six months of our DFC China effort was a high point.  In spite of the fact that DFC China was new, many still supported me and my dreams.  For example, after my first “sharing letter,” I received emails from over ten cities within a week.  This was the first step in turning my dreams into the dreams of others.  

I also learned that there is a very practical side.  After the first DFC China prize presentation in 2013, we didn’t have enough money to pay all of our expenses.  With big hearts, several of my core team members (adult superheroes) contributed enough to balance our accounts.  It was a moving gesture and it drove my own dedication to new heights.

In the story of DFC China, I feel that only several lessons are most important.  Only several are most basic. It’s important to be passionate and to have faith.  When you are doing something good for society and you work hard on it, support will come.  Your hard work will earn it, and your faith will bring it.  The more you believe in yourself and your team, the more contagious you all become.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Pedro-DFC Spain: DFC Global Catalyst

As told to David Wygant

The Sweet Taste of Success RECIPE

What do creative thinkers do?  They explore and experiment in what they can see around them, and inside the spaces of thought and thinking.  Pedro is such a person.  Supported by his experience managing international social and business projects, he has found a natural outlet for his social innovation passion in his leadership of Design for Change (DFC) - Spain.   Following his education and experience as an industrial engineer and EMBA (Comillas), he has travelled the globe to find programs in strategic intuition (Columbia), social entrepreneurship (Stanford) and NGO leadership (ESADE).

Listen to how Pedro describes his introduction to DFC. 

"It was in the summer of 2010. I was in London when I heard about DFC through the HUB Network.  I contacted my friend Adrian who was leading DFC in the UK.  He put me in touch with Kiran.  In the meantime, unknown to me, he also contacted Kiran about my interest in DFC.  Adrian and I would later have dinner together in Madrid where he confessed that he had told Kiran she could expect great things from DFC Spain.  Now, that was my challenge."

"Now everything in my life seemed to align.  I had recently reflected on and studied social enterprises.  I had developed a passion to become a social entrepreneur.  I had met and experienced Kiran's charisma and dedication.  I had seen the opportunity to improve and reform the education system in Spain.   I was ready to make the leap from an international corporation where I had been an industrial engineer for eight years to the social field that was my passion.”

INGREDIENTS (What to Know)

Listen to your own convictions.  Your experiences over time are the echoes of truth.

Go deeper into an understanding of any problem by listening to the experiences of others.  Don’t solve the wrong problem.

Personalize, collaborate and experiment by adding your voice and energy.  Lead toward meaningful change through student I CAN initiatives.

Align cross sector collaborations.  Through our efforts in Spain, we hope to become a relevant innovator in education.

Offer something different to students and the education program by demonstrating the effectiveness of design thinking through DFC projects.

Put it together.  “Take one idea.  Choose one week and put it into practice.  Then reflect on your action.”

Align participation and cause with efficiency and impact.  Combine the best attributes of business and social organizations.

Match volunteer skills and passions with the needs of the organization.

There is always money for good ideas and committed teams.  In Spain, we have developed a funding method for the implementation of Design For Change projects at schools.  Now we are focused on the core organization "Yo diseño el Cambio" Project.

 COOKING INSTRUCTIONS (How to be a protagonist who changes the world)

First steps to forming a team.  At first I used my own contacts to publicize the initiative, and the HUB Madrid Network to meet new people interested in the project. We formed a couple of teams and collaborated with a couple of design thinking organizations.  Then we decided to launch our own association that is called Yo diseño el cambio.  Today there are six team members in DFC-Spain (Miguel, Mónica, Natxo, Natalia, Nuria y Pedro).  In addition, there are several practitioners who help us with creative processes for schools and teachers, and a few other technology and creative partners.

Spreading the design thinking virus.  Currently, the team is considering a program in which kids would experiment with the basics of social entrepreneurship. Whether this fits into an existing module, or stands alone within a school program, hasn’t been determined.  It might fit differently in different schools and classrooms.  In these schools and classrooms, new tools for teamwork and leadership become available, and empathy and collaboration become natural ingredients in the student learning process.  The students will take their lessons learned outside the school to their communities and their lives.

"Who’s going to tell this?" I needed someone to transform these experiences into amazing stories that could infect others.  Miguel, who is a “Waker of Dreams” was that person.

"Where might we carry out the first pilot project?" Everything looked great. The next step was to build a first prototype.  As the first step, we wanted to take DFC to the schools.  So we created our first prototype for children and teachers.  We knew we needed to give project ownership to the children.  Children should feel complete ownership of the project and the process.  Then they would make the right decisions, and they would freely give the needed energy.  The prototype also needed to help teachers understand how to facilitate this result. 

“We wanted to reach out for best practices.”  What were the other countries doing?  How had they launched their project(s)?  On one side, there was India and Mexico working with very large numbers, and on the other side countries like the UK where the focus was on one or several schools in the beginning.  As it turns out, the major challenges to implementing DFC in schools were similar to those faced by the children in their projects.

"This is not about my idea.”  This is the most common learning in children after their first DFC experience and one of the biggest challenges we (adults) face today.  We are not used to teamwork.

SERVING THE FOOD (Feeding the Many)

Our first experience was in 2011 at The Quercus, a concerted school of Boadilla del Monte in the surroundings of Madrid, where Ana was a teacher in primary and secondary. There we held our first DFC program with almost 50 children.  We launched the project telling the story of Kiran as a mother and how she started Riverside school.

During 2011, we sought to understand the DFC process and what it could bring to the educational world. We set out to perform five pilot projects with different centers of education.  Our aim was to explore how to offer the opportunity to the largest possible number of children in Spain. To do this we explored variety of schools and different levels of support to teachers, and conducted the following experiences:  Three formal schools (Madrid, Tenerife and San Sebastian), Cañada Real (Madrid) with a Social NGO as a Partner, and Casa San Cristobal, partnering with a cultural organization, as an extracurricular activity and facilitated entirely by our DFC Team.

From the beginning, we’ve thought that teacher support in the DFC process was key to success.  So, we’ve designed three key elements:

            A toolkit or teachers guide to facilitate DFC projects.

The I CAN LAB where teachers can explore and experiment one and a half days about how to facilitate projects with children.

A group of experts in the methodology to support schools that request our services.

Empathy (with teachers and children) is the central pillar of a project.   Knowing that both “learning by exploring” and “learning by doing” are critical, we set up laboratory experiences.  We don't teach.   As practitioners we seek to build communities of teachers and sustainably expand the movement at the same time.  In the future, we see an online platform that will support and facilitate the creation of a sustainable DFC Community.

 Coffee and Conversation

There have been many high points during this first stage.  However, the personal growth of the team has been the highest point of the project.  Lessons have sometimes been “hard earned and well learned.” 

What have been the important lessons learned?

The project gives the leading role to children.  They take responsibility for their education.  Their commitment to their community increases.   They become different points from which the “virus” can spread.  They become CONTAGIOUS.   Their teachers are renewed and become refreshed as both the children and teachers gain diverse and multi-cultural viewpoints.    Teachers set the example of how to “BE THE CHANGE.”

Optimism grows and so does the trust children have in themselves and their teams.  Real life problems become solvable.  As they become confident they become CONTAGIOUS.   In turn, they set the example of how to “BE THE CHANGE.”

The quality of the projects, and their sustainability over time, depends on the level of support teachers receive.  I CAN LABs for learning help teachers learn to better facilitate and sustain DFC in schools.   Center stage is visual documentation.  It is key to generating stories and holding attention in an exciting way.  What they can see in their imaginations they can become in real life.

What do we in Spain aspire to do in the future?

We want to be there, and do our share with DFC World, in support of accelerating innovation and quality growth of the world movement.  Create new models that teachers and parents can use to facilitate DFC projects with Kids.  Start doing design thinking in schools on a permanent basis.

Using DFC, create activities between schools that foster learning and collaboration among their students.   Promote and support "DFCx" in Schools.  Through better storytelling (sharing) of DFC projects to increase the amount and quality of SHARING.

Find a way to bring the "I CAN bug" to the employment sector to help create new jobs.  Offer people a process and program whereby they can reinvent themselves.  DFC and the I CAN Lab have inspired us to design a “new Lab” that is aimed at those who are unemployed in Spain, or those who are in a process of professional change.  A safe place where they can find support among their peers, and tools to help them explore new possibilities.  A process that allows them to experience a different way of innovating while pushing them to reinvent themselves professionally.  We want to create opportunities for those who would like to make a difference in their lives.  We’d like to help them build their creative confidence, and come up with new creative strategies.