Meet the global winners of Generation Unlimited Youth Challenge from Thailand
Teaching children empathy one move at a time
UNICEF’s second Generation Unlimited (GenU) Youth Challenge has come to an end, but it is just the start of an exciting journey for “Muallim,” a team of young innovators from Thailand. Nisma Khodaeh, Nadiroh Wohae and Nurlaila Dokha emerged as one of eight global winners for their innovative solution to the problem of bullying in schools. They competed against 180 other teams from 36 countries tackling social problems from poor mental health to gender inequality.
Muallim have proven they have what it takes to create a more peaceful and inclusive world for the next generation. “DAWN,” their creative twist on the classic snakes and ladders board game, teaches primary school children about the harms of bullying and the practice of empathy one move at a time.
“As young girls who grew up in the Southern Border Provinces of Thailand, a place that has long faced ongoing unrest, we have not only witnessed the consequences of violence among adults, but also how such violence can trickle down to children in the form of bullying.”
The team of students from Fatoni University in Pattani province set out to nurture the skill of peaceful dialogue among children from an early age. Through surveys with teachers and parents, they found that textbooks and workshops on bullying prevention are often not age appropriate for primary school children, who are likely to lose focus.
“As all three of us are currently under training to become teachers ourselves, we understand that one of the most effective teaching and learning methods is through active learning.”
The aspiring teachers developed DAWN, educating children about peaceful problem solving through play. Players take turns in moving their pieces up the board toward the finish line according to the number they roll on the dice. They learn how to handle bullying through Handle Cards, how to help their peers through Hero Cards and how to self-reflect through Question Cards.
DAWN was modelled on real-life bullying situations, so children are able to apply the skills they picked up in the game to form positive and healthy relationships with their peers, families and communities.
The young innovators persevered through the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and piloted DAWN with children in schools and learning centres through a partnership with the Assalam Smart School Association of Thailand and TK Park.
“The lockdown measures made it more difficult for us to work together and to visit the field to meet with school children. Fortunately for us, connectivity was not that much of a problem, so we were able to stay on track and resolve any problems we encountered.”
With the US$15,000 prize and mentorship from the GenU Youth Challenge, the team plans to develop the game for different age groups, languages and contexts in Thailand and beyond.
“We believe that with the help of technology our solution can be developed into an application, which can be accessed and played by children from anywhere in the world.”
Young change-makers like Khodaeh, Wohae and Dokha are able to tap into their full potential and drive social innovation in their communities and beyond through opportunities like the GenU Youth Challenge. UNICEF and partners are excited to support their work and proud of all young participants in this year’s challenge for speaking up for the future they want.
The GenU Youth Challenge is a global initiative aiming to empower young people aged 14-24 to be the experts in their own lives and harness their creativity in creating better education, employment and entrepreneurial opportunities for the largest generation of young people in history.