Das Kahaniyaan – 4 – Art to Education, The Jigyasa Labroo way.
Jigyasa Labroo, social entrepreneur and Co-Founder of Slam Out Loud, talks to us about her journey in using art and poetry as a tool to engage with underprivileged kids. Slam Out Loud, as a not-for-profit organization, aims to encourage youngsters to speak up, with the purpose of “every individual having a voice that empowers them to impact lives.” Slam Out Loud accomplishes this by harnessing the transformative power of performing and visual arts to help children from underserved communities find their voice via creative expression, allowing them to learn to imagine what could be rather than what is.
Tracing the origins of what sparked her interest in starting this venture, Jigyasa tells us how she started her journey as a Teach for India fellow, working with low-income students. As a child, she was an introvert. Her 4th-grade teacher, Manisha, with her caring aura, helped Jigyasa find the confidence to explore her interests. Jigyasa’s mother used to take her to mushayaras, where she would perform her poetry and win Rs.100. For the first time, she tasted accomplishment and realised that she, too, had potential. She grew to believe that with enough love and acceptance, anybody could be happy. This sparked in her the interest to move on to the next larger, natural progression of her goals.
In a short while, Jigyasa has been able to create substantial influence with her work. What’s more impressive is that Jigyasa started when she was only 22 years old. At a time when people are still figuring out who they are, thinking about the next stages in their career, she was able to make her mark, and impact the lives of hundreds of kids. Her trajectory and success stand to impress.
The methodology behind Slam Out Loud’s approach is holistic, simple, and evidently efficient. While in India, classrooms emphasise rote learning over critical thinking, and students are under pressure to attain high grades and enter competitive fields, arts education is frequently disregarded or dismissed. In order to bridge the gap, SoL emphasises the importance of a well-rounded, artistically fuelled education. While arts education is important for children’s mental and emotional health, Slam Out Loud believes that it also has the ability to catalyse social change. The objective is that through instilling values such as tolerance, reflective listening, empathy, and respect in the children, they will pass such values on to their families and communities.
To young entrepreneurs aspiring to work in similar spheres, Jigyasa advises, “I’d once read that all generalisations, including this one, are false, and deeply believe that all of us are on our own journeys as entrepreneurs. So while it might be important to keep our eyes and ears open to feedback and advice, we all need to discover our own truths, and sometimes make our own unique mistakes. As long as we keep listening deeply to our beneficiaries or customers, we are good. Additionally, having interests outside of work helps as a gentle reminder that we are but a speck in the scheme of things, and pausing to stop and smell the roses on this path hurt no one.”