Leadership is getting redefined. It is now all about youth leadership that supports students in developing the ability to analyse their own strengths and weaknesses, set personal and professional goals, and have the self-esteem, confidence, motivation, and abilities to carry them out. Through leadership development, students can be mentored, guided, and trained to become dynamic personalities.

Providing leadership training prepares youth to manage time, work in a team setting, set goals, start conversations, facilitate meetings, and make effective presentations; all of which are positive life skills that they will carry into adulthood.

For many years, leadership has been seen by most people as a role or a title in a business, organization or team. Recently, on my trip to Singapore, I met Aparna Nayampalli, who is the Director HR of Enabling Leadership Foundation. Her husband, Ravi Sonnad is the CEO and together with a fantastic leadership team who share their passion and vision for building leadership in today’s children they have followed what they truly believe in.

The Enabling Leadership Foundation believes that in order for today’s children to truly succeed at school, in their careers and as responsible adults, there is an urgent need to redefine leadership. One where every child is a role model, positive contributor and global citizen. Their programs use a unique pedagogy and creative methods that enable leadership through building strong belief systems, excellent problem solving skills, and a keen sense of awareness.

The Foundation is a for-purpose non-profit with a mission to instil leadership qualities in underprivileged children through innovative and creative programs, especially in Asia. They envision a world where every child is a leader – a role model, a global citizen and a positive contributor. And the way ahead for this growing leadership is through a shared love of music, football and creativity.

Evidence proves that education can lead to improved human development indices like improved health, reduced poverty and child mortality. But what enables individuals to make ‘right’ choices – ones that take responsibility for improving our combined futures? This is at the heart of their theory of change. And they believe that strong leadership skills are vital to creating choices as well as making the right choices.

They don't believe that any single individual or handful of individuals can make the difference we need in the world today. Every child matters, every single child is needed, every child can be this kind of ‘leader’.

It all sounds very challenging and that is why it is their mission to reach 1 million children by 2030. Today they have reached out to over 6000 children in Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Pune and 15 villages in Dharwad and Kumta, in Karnataka, India. It is their goal to enrol at least 60% of our students from rural India by 2025.

Their programmatic strategy focuses on building meaningful and sustainable impact in each community that they serve. Programs are implemented as at least three-year in-school interventions with students starting at age 8 years, in government or low-income schools. Each of their programs, while engaging and fun, is also carefully designed to enable children to learn important leadership skills.

Just For Kicks is a football program that enables children from under-resourced schools to carry their leadership learnings from the team sport into real-life situations and challenges. Through the program, students work together as teams to learn football technique preparing them to participate in Just For Kicks' regional and national leagues.

Music Basti’s group-based music learning program enables children from under-resourced schools to tell the stories of their dreams and communities through music. Through its unique and bespoke teaching methods, the program trains students in music fundamentals, writing original songs and giving public performances.

Build Maya uses the pedagogy of play to enable children to create a world of their imagination. Using the principle of positive play, students design solutions using building blocks for real-world challenges in their home, school, village or larger community.

In 2018-19, each of Enabling Leadership’s program outcomes were designed and implemented based on a common leadership framework. While the medium of instruction varied across the programs, the shared goal was to enable positive outcomes related to developing strong belief systems, excellent problem solving skills and a keen sense of awareness.

While it was the first year of implementation with their structured curriculum and pedagogy, there were many key programmatic learnings based on methodology and program delivery, evaluation of impact and results, and anecdotal evidence from the programs across India.

Many of these stories have been captured in a series of films created by Enabling Leadership over the course of the year. Noteworthy examples of engaging parents and local community members include ‘play dates’ set up in rural Dharwad through the Build Maya program, with students leading parents through activities, or, more than 50% of parents attending the Music Basti annual concerts in Delhi.

Transformation in schools and communities can only be possible with the consolidated efforts of parents and school authorities. While orientations with parents and schools are a part of the program, they will be designed to be more effective and frequent in the next year in order to help them understand the program objectives more clearly and support their children and students.