On February 9, 2018, Digital Empowerment Foundation hosted its fourth DEFdialogue with Ulrike Reinhard. Ulrike Reinhard is a German publisher, author and futurist. She is best known for her skatepark Janwaar Castle in rural Madhya Pradesh. She has travelled to more than 100 countries where she has spoken to Nobel Laureates, nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize, high ranking politicians, internationally acknowledged visionary thinkers, successful entrepreneurs, outstanding critics, activists and down-to-earth field practitioners.
Ulrike started work at Janwaar Castle in 2014 with a social experiment – a skatepark in a rural village in the heart of India. What unfolded then is an incredible story of change. Social, cultural and economic change. The children in this village became true changemakers. They took the lead and became role models for many others. Skateboarding has given them self-confidence and self-esteem. Now they are on their way to take their future in their own hands. They’ve an identity they earlier couldn’t even think of.
In her discussion with an audience of about 30 people, Ulrike narrated stories of change. The enthusiasm for skateboarding has reduced drop out rates and increased school attendance of students, so much so that the local school was forced to increase its strength of teachers. Men have cut down on their drinking, women have been encouraged to build toilets, households have been transformed into homesteads, and children are travelling around the world, exploring opportunities and learning much more beyond the traditional classroom education. Today, they are young chanemakers in the community, with improved confidence and self-esteem.
The session, which started with an encouraging videos about the children who’re going places (and not just on their stake boards), ended with a book signing session with Ulrike, who recently published a pictorial book titled the Rural Changemakers of Janwaar.