Inspiring learning for a fairer future

Building, Singing and Creating the Change

Thursday, 30 May 2019 15:30

Our latest Start The Change event, 'Create The Change', focused on creative activism and the young Change Maker groups we're supporting. Taking a creative approach to activism, the day incorporated Lego Play, Virtual Reality, music and storytelling. With a group of youth workers, tutors, artists, creative activists and young people, here’s how it all came together...

Lr Lego hands StC bag

Much of the Start The Change Project has involved working directly with teachers through CPD sessions exploring the connections between the Sustainable Development Goals and migration. As the project progresses we’re involving more and more groups, organisations and individuals from outside the formal education sector.

Rachel Avery, our Global Learning Officer, began by explaining how the project’s aims are to challenge stereotypes, fears and prejudices, particularly in light of the often very negative narrative around migration and with the backdrop of Brexit, climate change and increasing levels of inequality. Likewise, she highlighted that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs or ‘Global Goals’) “are being used by people all over the world to harness action at many different levels.”

Who’s in the room?

Most of us have been subjected to uncomfortable ice-breakers and awkward intros at training sessions but Lindsay Dunbar, our Global Youth Officer and accredited LEGO Serious Play facilitator, began by asking everyone to build a tower with the bricks in front of them. It was an activity that not only broke the ice, but helped us to relax and engaged our creativity too - as well as injecting a bit of fun into a full day’s training.

Lego eyes tower lr

“It’s a beautiful world so I want to look at it” (a pupil explaining why their tower had eyes!)

 Continuing with the LEGO, the group were then asked to build something that represented one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (which include No Poverty, Life Below Water, Gender Equality, Quality Education and Climate Action). Then to build something that shows what the words ‘Global Citizenship’ mean to them. The results included; showing how “angry man” needed to be part of the conversation as much as it might be difficult or uncomfortable!; that the pillars of patriarchy need to be knocked down and…that Global Citizenship is quite simply about love.

Lr Lego angry man

Angry man at the table!


Lr Lego patriarchy

The pillars of patriarchy


Lr Lego heart

Global Citizenship is all about love

Eventually we packed the toys away and began to explore the SDGs in more detail! We considered how connected they are, not only to each other but to much of the work that our group members are already involved in.

Born out of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and the result of a worldwide consultation, the SDGs really do offer an excellent framework for exploring all of the vital issues that affect us all as Global Citizens. No matter what you’re involved in, there are pertinent and relevant connections you can make with the Goals. To demonstrate this Rachel used Practical Action’s SDG string activity.

Lr String close-up

Practical Action's Global Goals string activity

This was followed by a look at the kinds of perceptions we have of the facts and figures around migration, which highlighted just how warping an effect the media can have and how important it is to invest time in unpacking and critiquing what we’re told – particularly when working as educators, tutors, activists and youth workers.

Lr Annie George 1

Writer, director, producer...Annie George

After a break, during which we shared our own migration stories with others in the room, we were lucky enough to have multi award-winning “writer, director, producer, performer and an occasional filmmaker”, Annie George, talk to us about the power of storytelling.

She explored ideas and notions of ‘home’, shared stories from her family’s history in both Kerala and the UK, talked about the effects of “othering” and how throughout her life she's not recognised the India that others around her referred to in such negative ways. (In fact she said so much, we’ll add another post soon…)

After lunch many of us found ourselves quite literally singing and dancing right out of our comfort zones! Musician Kate O’Connell explored how powerful song and music can be as a means of breaking down barriers and bringing people together.


Then we moved on to see how Virtual Reality can be used as a means of increasing empathy towards others and to raise more experiential awareness of issues and situations in a very unique way. It can add even greater depth to understanding and learning – a fantastic example of this being the film ‘Tree’, which shows what it might be like to be a tree affected by climate change and deforestation.

Even a short while ago VR required expensive (and resource heavy) equipment and technology, but it’s possible to use the phones most of us have in our pockets to transport into a virtual world. Using cardboard goggles (of which we have a set of 30 available to loan to Highland schools for FREE) we were able to see the effects of coral bleaching, climate change and what it might be like to live in a refugee camp, in the UN’s ’Clouds Over Sidra’.

These kinds of immersive experiences allow us to explore and experience often very complex issues that can be difficult to lift off the page. In doing so VR can increase the impact of learning and ultimately inspire and motivate individuals to help bring about change through action and as Change Makers.

Lr Group challenge

In the final part of the day, the groups were asked how they’re going to Create the Change and worked through ideas built from and around the day’s learning. With a number of Change Maker groups around the Highlands, we’ll be reporting back on how they get on over the coming months and beyond.


A huge thanks to everyone who came along. It was another inspiring #StartTheChangeProject event which, as ever, was such a success because of the passion and commitment of all involved – staff and participants alike.

We’ll have videos and more photos to share from this and all our events as the project progresses through the next two years. Visit the main Start The Change page to keep up to date, or go to the Start The Change platform.

A member of:

Funded by:

This website has been produced with the assistance of the European Union. The contents of this website are the sole responsibility of Highland One World (HOW) and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.