Design for Change

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Design For Change
Motto Every Child Can

Design for Change, is a global movement that empowers children to be the change they wish to see in this world. Founded by Kiran Bir Sethi, founder-director of the Riverside School in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, this movement has spread to over 35 countries in three years. Kiran started this global movement with a conviction that if children are empowered and made to feel that they can take matters into their hands, they will change the world for the better.

Based on a simplified design thinking process, this initiative asks students to FEEL any problem that bother them, IMAGINE a way to make it better, DO an act of change and SHARE their story of change with the world.

The Beginning[edit]

In 2009, the ‘Joy of Giving’ week was launched in India with the aim of re-imagining Gandhi Jayanti (Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi) from a mere holiday into a celebration of change. A close friend of Kiran’s was the mind behind the idea. The idea was to encourage individuals and organizations of all kinds to celebrate the spirit of giving by dedicating the week to a cause of their choice. In discussing the idea with him, Kiran realized that the 'Joy of Giving' week expected a lot of charity and volunteerism from youth and adults, but very little out of children.

In response to the felt need of including children in the spirit of giving and believing in their ability to make change, Design For Change (DFC) was launched in 2009. In the first year DFC reached out to 30,000 schools in India, encouraging students to create change around them.

The DFC Process: FIDS[edit]

DFC has simplified the design thinking process into a simple 4-step FIDS process, making it accessible to children. These 4 steps are:

Feel - This step asks students to observe the situations in their community that bother them. After drawing out a list of situations, the students choose one that they would like to change. They explore why this situation bothers them, who are the people affected by this situation and who are the people involved in creating this situation.

Imagine - This step encourages students to interact with the people of their community to identify points of intervention and possible solutions. The students create their best-case scenario and re-design this situation to make it better.

Do - The students then develop a plan of action, keeping in mind the resources, budget, time and human resources they have. They then implement this plan.

Share - The final step is to share the story of change so that other people may be able replicate their solution and also be inspired to new problems. All stories of change are shared on the DFC website. Besides this, schools and organizations host events where the young change-leaders and their stories are celebrated!


Design for Change is introduced in various schools in two formats:

1. Design for Change School Challenge: wherein children are encouraged to spend at least one week going through the FIDS process. At the end of this period, they submit their story of change to the DFC coordinators of their country. The submission deadline for each country varies, depending on the school schedules. Every country also has an independent jury that then nominates and rewards the Top stories of change for the year! Awards are given in various categories such as 'Most sustainable Solution', 'Quickest Impact', 'Boldest Idea' etc.

2. Design for Change School Curriculum: aims at taking children deeper into the design thinking process, spending a semester on the FIDS process. Children spend an entire semester with just one problem/ issue often spending close to a month on each step of the FIDS process. The emphasis is on developing skills such as -problem-solving, design-thinking, leadership; and attitudes such as - empathy, cross-cultural understanding, generosity; in addition to academic learning.

Usually schools begin their DFC process by participating in the School Challenge and then adopt the curriculum after experiencing benefits of the process on their students.


DFC is open to all children up to the age of 18 years. Most participating children fall between the age group of 8–15 years. The initiative is free of cost and is open to all groups of children. Though a majority of the participating groups are from schools (private and government), NGOs and other clubs of children are also welcome to participate.

All the DFC material is available online and has been translated into 15 different languages making it one of the most inclusive movements of change around the world.


Stories of change from DFC have found their way into various publications:

1. DFC stories of change were converted into comic strips and featured in the popular Indian comic magazine 'Tinkle'.

2. Amar Chitra Katha, India's leading publisher of children's books, published an entire book called " I Can: Stories of how Children are Changing their World". This book features the Top 20 DFC stories of change from different countries!

3. The DFC School Curriculum has been included in the Longman Pearson Value-education Textbooks.

Global Awareness[edit]

In November 2009, Kiran went to TED India to share her idea about empowering students to say "I CAN" instead of "Can I?" Her talk went online in January 2010, taking DFC to a global audience. Following this, all the DFC material was put online for anyone to download and start DFC in their own country. Individuals and organizations in over 35 countries have taken up the initiative since then.

Kiran Bir Sethi's TED Talk

Countries where DFC is active (as of 2011):

  1. Australia
  2. Bangladesh
  3. Bhutan
  4. Brazil
  5. Canada
  6. China
  7. Colombia
  8. Ecuador
  9. France
  10. Germany
  11. Greece
  12. Hong Kong
  13. India
  14. Israel
  15. Japan
  16. Korea
  17. Laos
  18. Macau
  19. Mexico
  20. Morocco
  21. Pakistan
  22. Philippines
  23. Portugal
  24. Nigeria
  25. Peru
  26. Romania
  27. Russia
  28. Singapore
  29. South Africa
  30. Spain
  31. Sweden
  32. Taiwan
  33. Thailand
  34. Turkey
  35. UAE
  36. United Kingdom
  37. United States of America


DFC is the winner of:

1. The Rockefeller Foundations' Young Innovator Award (2012)

2. INDEX: Design that Improves Life (2011)