Mumbai and Bhavnagar Cities, India
During 2013 – 2014, the Child Friendly Places (CFP) initiative developed by the Children’s Environments Research Group (CERG) with support from Bernard van Leer Foundation was implemented in two cities of India – Mumbai (Maharashtra) and Bhavnagar (Gujarat) – by collaborating with local partners – Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai and Shaishav – a child rights organization in Bhavnagar. Working with Dr. Pamela Wridt (co-Director of CERG) in the capacity of India’s project leader for the CFP initiative, I continue to engage our local partners – TISS and Shaishav – in long-term processes to improve conditions that fulfill children’s rights and ensure their healthy development in their respective communities. In Bhavnagar, Shaishav’s Balsena teams (small participatory groups of 20 – 30 children) used the CFP Resource Kit, a pictorial child friendly survey uniquely designed to be usable by children as young as seven years of age as well as by adults, including those who are illiterate, to assess the ‘child friendliness’ of their environments. Through participatory methods, Balsena teams collected opinions of 3,516 participants in 27 low-income communities throughout Bhavnagar city. Likewise, in Mumbai, TISS collaborated with children, young people and community members to implement the Child Friendly Places assessment and planning initiatives as part of its M – Ward Initiative in six communities and four schools.
(2) Education in Emergencies, Haiti
From 2011 – 2012, in the capacity of CERG’s research associate, I worked with Dr. Roger Hart and Dr. Pamela Wridt (co-Directors of CERG) on the ‘Education in Emergencies’ project funded by the Education Section of UNICEF. I assisted in the design, implementation, and pilot testing of ‘Children’s Participatory Assessment Toolkit for Transitional Learning Spaces’ for children to assess their school environments in Haiti. The ‘Children’s Participatory Assessment Toolkit for Transitional Learning Spaces’ is one of the first assessment toolkits that enables children to express their views about the quality of education in emergency contexts. During the toolkit implementation in Haiti, I experimented the use of LEGO as a participatory design tool with small groups of 4 – 6 children to understand and re-design the physical and social environments of their school. The LEGO tool acted as a supplementary design tool to the Child Friendly Schools toolkit.
(3) Child Friendly Communities, New York
During 2010 – 2011, in the capacity of an internal project evaluator and research assistant to Dr. Pamela Wridt, Co-Director of CERG, I contributed to conceptual research design and implementation of the Child Friendly Communities project in East Harlem, New York. The ‘Child Friendly Communities – East Harlem’ project was a pilot initiative supported by the US Fund for UNICEF to develop an after school civic engagement program that focuses on: 1) educating children and youth about their rights, and 2) building their capacity to become leaders and activists for children’s rights in their communities in the United States.