Observe Program for High School Students

The Observe program is aimed at developing and amplifying youth voices by guiding them through a series of workshops to pay attention to their cities, understand its functioning, rethink the city based on their observations and to effectively communicate the change they desire.

This program will provide skills and tools that both inform action and support their developing voices. Women and girls are deeply affected by misogynistic behaviours and attitudes prevalent in societies around the globe. The impacts are often internalized, creating barriers that diminish and even silence their voices. Urgent problems facing communities, including the impacts of climate change, rapid urbanization, access to safe drinking water and sanitation, food deserts and other deficiencies are also opportunities for creative responses from the change-makers of the future. Inspired by the broad impacts of women like Malala Yousafzai, and recently, Wangari Maathai, Jane Jacobs, girls and young women have both new role models and new narratives to help them navigate through inequalities and push for creative expression.

How are we tailoring Observe to continue inspiring our youth during COVID-19?

Due to the ongoing pandemic, the need to engage with students virtually arose, For this reason an alternative structure for the Observe program was developed –

The Observe Home Edition is a way to engage students and prompt them to complete simple tasks and activities about their city right from their own homes. This edition is conducted through short videos with instructions on carrying out a specific activity and the pilot was launched in Hope School at Kannagi Nagar in Chennai. Every other week, videos and posters are sent to students of the 6th grade through Whatsapp. By the end of the week, students send in their responses and their completed task through the same platform. 

These tasks are split into two categories – ‘warm up’ and ‘intensive’ which are based on complexity and time duration of the activities. Essentially, the Home Edition activities were developed with a focus on minimising social interaction while facilitating the youth to remain connected with their neighbourhoods. 


Kuppai Diaries
Newspaper collage

Project team: Vidhya Mohankumar, Abinaya Rajavelu, SRivardhan Rajalingham, Vidya Venkatesan
Partner Organisations: The Center for the Living City, with support from the Ford Foundation