Late in 2006, Pearl River Middle School fifth graders received the Ghandi Prize for their Design for Change project, called Add Vertisements, an anti-bullying campaign.
Two of those students, Katelyn Freedman and Abigail Frankel, accompanied teacher Jim Guerci June 26 of this year to join to accept the Innovation award from the Rockefeller Foundation as part of a group representing Design for Change.
"They invited us down to represent the USA," Guerci said. "It is pretty prestigious. It really blows this up into a big thing. They just asked me to show up and make sure the kids I invite can talk in front of a group."
Design for change is a program founded by Kiran Bir Sethi that is now being used in 300,000 schools in 34 countries. Design for Change encourages children with the motto, "I can."
Children are challenged to improve their communities with a four-word, four-step framework: Feel, Imagine, Do and Share. The first step is feeling for others so they can identify a problem. Then they imagine what they can do to help. They put that plan into action and then share their solution with others.
"It is problem solving with a social impact point of view," Guerci said. “The whole idea is challenging children to think of what they can do instead of what they can't do."
Two years ago, Guerci's fifth graders recognized the problem of bullying in school and designed a campaign to battle it, putting posters with anti-bullying messages all over Pearl River Middle School. Bullying is an issue that has received a great deal of attention at the state level and locally over the past couple of years, most recently with _state legislation against cyberbullying_.
"They were ahead of the curve," Guerci said of his students.
The YouTube video from the Rockefeller Foundation Awards honoring Design for Change is attached to this report. For more information regarding Design for Change, go to www.dfcworld.com.