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Granny Army - Utilizing resources/skills already available within a community!

Parents in the low income communities may not have the time (as they have to work hard for the survival of the family) or lack the necessary skills/ knowledge to raise their children. However, within a community we might find individuals (Parents/ Grandparents) who have certain skills; for example individuals may be good at farming, reading, story telling, singing, dancing, games, painting, weaving, etc. which can be taught by bringing children within the community together. Hence the skills/ knowledge which are readily available within the local community can be utilized to help children thrive during their first five years.

Photo of Sanjana Ramamurthy
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After getting a lot of insight not only from the research phase (especially from missions like Key Influencers, Define the Problem and Success Adults), but also from some past challenges (like "How might we all maintain wellbeing and thrive as we age?"), I came up with this idea.

Parents in low-income community are usually busy working. Based on this situation, we target out 'teacher group' as grandparents mainly,especially grannies. Because grannies usually have rich experience as mothers and gooding understanding of what needs to be done for children. That's why our idea names 'granny army'. 

In order to implement it the following steps can be executed: 

Step 1. Identifying people (parents & grandparents) with skills within the community.
Step 2. Convincing them to teach and making them understand the importance of passing the knowledge to the next generation.
Step 3. Helping the community organise sessions/classes based on the available skills.
Step 4. Providing the training to communities, if they require certain skills.
Step 5. Gathering 1-5 years old children and skilled parents/grandparents and finding appropriate places (if necessary) to conduct the sessions.
Step 6. Bringing in awareness about the learning sessions within the community.
Step 7. Helping them organize and conduct sessions during the initial weeks.
Step 8. Tracking the progress of children’s learning and growth.
Step 9. Feedback from parents.

23/11/2014 Update

The younger children in your target group are not likely to sit to learn as school children do. The 5 year olds may sit for awhile to listen to a story, participate in group music/singing etc. 
All of the young children can learn through play. The 2 - 3 year olds won't yet play with other children directly, rather they play side by side. By the age of three the children will interact and play with each other and share. Children learn to problem solve through play. Helping children figure out how to use resources to find answers, rather than giving them answers enhances their ability to problem solve which gives them confidence. Having a group of Grannys with different interests and skill sets can be a great resource.
So, instead of traditional lessons, we are going to have more play lessones which are theme based, utilizing the Granny's ( parents & grandparentss) skill set that aligns with different themes. ex) Gardens - Let granny who is musical create a song about gardens or vegetables for the children to sing or dance to. Let the farmer tell stories about his work, or about how food grows. 
We will apply role model into our project. In that way, children can be exposed to success stories of adults so they can believe that everything is possible in the future. Adults in learning group may share their 'successful' experience to children to motivate them. 

Reasons for success:
1.The cost of implementation is low.
2.Involving people from different generations brings in a sense of belonging.
3.Efficiently utilizing skills/knowledge that are readily available.
4. Can be implemented immediately and requires a minimum of two volunteers. 
 5. Considering the generic nature of the idea, it can be implemented across the world among low income communities.

Who will benefit from this idea and where are they located?

Given the generic nature of the idea, this can be implemented in any part of the world, among any community. The group of people who will benefit from this idea are children, parents, grandparents and the community itself. Basically everybody! Children: They will gain useful skills which may not be available within their family. Learning in groups/teams will help children realize the importance of teamwork and friendship. In addition, the project will help them enhance their creativity and learning. Children will attain skills and knowledge that is key within their community. Parents: They will have more time to work and provide for their family. Also, they will feel more comfortable knowing that their children are taken care of and being taught. Older generations will also guide them regarding the nutrition that needs to be provided for kids. Grandparents: They will provide their great value to next generation and will appreciate the fact of them being involved in the community. Community: Since the next generation of the community will be better equipped, not only a better present, but also a better future will be guaranteed. Builds a sense of belonging and oneness in the community.

How could you test this idea in a quick and low-cost way right now?

1. Test for skill availability within low income communities. 2. Check for willingness/ passion within individuals to teach or assist the new generation 3. Understand if parents are willing to send their children to such community organized sessions.

What kind of help would you need to make your idea real?

In each community, we have to explain the benefits of this idea and find parents and grandparents willing to participate. We must also identify their skills so that each one of them has something to offer to children (others might know how to read and write, others how to cultivate land etc). Given the above, we might face some key challenges, like the possibility that some communities might lack wiling or skilled grandparents or parents.

Is this an idea that you or your organization would like to take forward?

  • This idea is meant to inspire. I hope someone else takes it on!


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Photo of Ayman Hanafi

Granny Army" sound amazing as every child adored their grandparents and they know best' having brought up their children. I'm sure this granny army would love to inspire their grand children and teach them lots of native stories, sewing skills ,cooking skills . planting, music and dance. A fantastic education. Best of luck to you all!

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