Projects that make a Difference

It started with a book, and ended with a badge. That is Anu’s story. Except, that is not quite where it ended…

In February this year Pétanque Consultancy teamed up with iLivetoLead International (iL2L), teaching project management skills as part of their dynamic international leadership training programme for young women. An integral part of the training programme is the delivery of a community project , called the “I Commit to Act Now project” (iCAN), whereby each student gets the opportunity to use the leadership skills that she had learnt in a manner that would benefit her community. To ensure the success of these iCAN projects, Project School for Girls – a Pétanque initiative – was brought to life whereby the basics of Project Management is distilled to its essence and adapted to a younger audience.

The students are taught how to articulate their passion for social change by clearly defining a perceived need within their communities and then learning how to go about implementing a workable solution to address that need. The students learn how to plan effectively, covering dimensions like deliverables, detailed work breakdowns, budgeting, risk management and milestone management. The iL2L leadership training teaches these young women how to dream big and believe in their ability to make a difference in their world. Project School for Girls complements this by teaching the young women how to take those big dreams and turn them into reality, step by step, with the aid of good project management skills. Although it is taught within the context of the iCAN projects, its reach is so much wider: it exposes these young women to a way of thinking, a way of dealing with complex and seemingly overwhelming situations in a constructive and positive manner. Let’s face it – landing a boyfriend is every bit as important as setting up a charitable organization to eradicate poverty at that tender age.  And project management skills are applicable in both situations!

Back to Anu.

Anuradha Rao is a young women in her final year at school who received training at the iL2LIndia Summit in Chennai during March this year. Co-hosted by Global Adjustments Relocations services, 20 young women from all over India were trained in the nuances of leadership. Voted as the most promising young women of her group, Anu was selected by her peers to attend the prestigious International Summit in Washington DC in July this year.

She was very clear about the focus of her iCAN project: being a passionate environmentalist, she perceived an urgent need to educate her fellow school students about environmental degradation and their role in halting it. With the aid of her iCAN Project Workbook and her two mentors, she planned a project – called Environ – through which she would subtly educate and inspire her fellow students to get involved in Green initiatives. Her milestones included upskilling herself in Green speak, ascertaining the pre-project Green perceptions of her target audience, bringing in guest speakers to educate the students on the topic, exposing the students to facts and tips through a Green notice board and a dedicated Green newsletter, arranging an arts competition on biodiversity, and instituting a Green award for top performers. Her enthusiasm and expertise in the field was noticed by her teachers and she was invited to set up the Economics and Environment section displays of the quadrennial project organised by her school. Focussing on ‘Sustainability: Industries and Renewable Energy’, her team produced, amongst other things, a model of a sugarcane-producing village that has a bagasse plant using the waste material of the juice extraction factory to meet the energy needs of the entire village, as well as the factory -a sustainable village of the future.

As a result of her project Anu has already noticed more enthusiasm for environmental affairs amongst her fellow students, with a marked improvement in perceptions that one person can make a difference.

And this one person, Anu, did make a difference. She also learnt how to translate an idea into reality. Anu says that “I’ve never realized it until now, but planning and sticking to the plan is actually a very good idea!”  She highlights learning to communicate effectively and coordinate multiple tasks and people as valuable skills learnt from the project. Setting up her newsletter and starting a blog on the project had furthermore added valuable editing and writing skills to her experience list. Perhaps most importantly though, is learning about being a leader and what that entails. “The very objective of taking up a community service project as part of the iLive2Lead programme was to hone my leadership skills. I am happy to say that Environ gave me the opportunity to do all of the above and much more! I was also made the Environment Monitor of my school, and here is a picture of my badge!!”

Anu is one of many young women who have benefited from leadership training and are now making a difference in the world. To learn more about the programme, contact us or visit www.il2l.org

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About Annelize Booysen

Annelize Booysen, PhD, is a special advisor to Pétanque Consultancy. View Profile
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