These young swachh warriors from Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu are unlike any regular 13-year-olds. Feeling disappointed seeing an elderly lady every day sweeping their school’s large playground, the students from a Panchayat Union Middle School, Konerikuppa village decided to help her out in their out of the box ‘Swachh Innovation.’ What they did was something unique – they built a Sweeping Vehicle towards the end of 2016 made out of waste products which otherwise would have made their way into the dustbins and later would have added on to the burden of the landfills.
Meet the team behind this innovation – Elavarasan, Sivakumar S, Sathish Kumar P, Yuvaraj E, and Thirumalai K, they are the students of class VII and VIII. The aim was to ease the burden of the 50-year-old P Panchali, who passed away recently and used to sweep the school compound. The students initially thought of giving her a helping hand by cleaning the school together with her, but, as that would have eaten up their scheduled time for study and other activities at school, they started thinking of other creative solutions.
They got help from Design for Change, a not-for-profit organisation that challenges children across the country to solve problems in their community. The NGO identified the school and motivated the children and teachers to take up any prevailing issue in the school to create a sustainable solution by themselves. The warriors adopted the simple 4-step formula created by the NGO – Feel the problem, imagine the issue, do create solutions and Share your idea with others.
The thoughts were always there to do something big and address the ongoing issues in the schools. P Panchali was working with us for last 9 years, we all have seen her grow old, and she recently passed away. When we used to see her struggling sweeping the large areas of the school, we all used to feel let down. When we heard from Design For Change and the concepts they are promoting, together with my super heroes we planned to build a vehicle out of waste products. We used geometrical instrument of the compass, which students used in class to draw circles, waste palm wheels, coconut leaves, a stick, and wheels of small cycles, explained Arockia Raj L, Primary Teacher and a Mentor for students, under whose guidance this project was undertaken.
An Innovation To Help An Elderly Woman
In order to understand the problem faced by P Panchali, the students worked with her so that they could get a fair idea of her struggles and can create a sustainable solution.
After many hits and misses, the students were successfully in making a vehicle made out of coconut-leaves-on-wheels. Explaining the process, Arockia Raj L said, First we secured the wheels to the stick and then tied the coconut leaves to it. It was designed in such a way that it has a fulcrum and an arm – the arm is a massive broom made of coconut leaves which could easily sweep the large playground.
The students said they faced lot of failures initially and the final product that was created was of two types – one that can be used while cycling in circles, and the other while walking in circles.
Why Waste Materials?
Highlighting on why the children thought of using waste materials, Arockia Raj L said, first it is cost effective, secondly, today our country is struggling to find solutions for so much of waste that’s already been generated by all of us. These students were aware of the fact that in order to make clean India a reality, they first need to find sustainable ways to deal with waste. Hence, they came up with an idea of using waste products and reusing them.
Swachh Move With A Creative Touch
Today, when P Panchali is no more with the students, the children are during their free-time are using this vehicle and thereby sweeping the ground all by themselves.
They have also shared their innovation with other people by writing letters to their nearest schools explaining them about their out of the box idea and its purpose in the hope that this will help and benefit many other aging cleaning staff members like P Panchali.
Recognition for Swachh Efforts
This project was selected under ‘Quick Impact’ category from 3,600 Stories of Change submitted for the ‘I CAN Awards 2016’ organised by Design for Change in India.
The idea behind ‘I Can programme’ is simple, we want to pass on the message to everyone, especially children in the society that one doesn’t need to be rich and powerful in order to make a difference, just believe in yourself. That’s what Design for Change as an organisation encourages, added Nandini Sood, CEO, Design For Change, India.
India may well be grappling with serious problems of open defecation, waste management which are hampering our growth as a nation, but swachh crusaders like these children give hope in the quest for realising the dream of clean India.
Got A Similar Story? Share The Swachh Story With Us