Slam Out Loud - A Visionary Voice With a Mission to Empower
Privileging the underprivileged children through the arts, this organisation has creativity at its core and artistic expression as its driving force to provide students with Social Emotional Learning. Dive into the story of the one and only Slam Out Loud.
Is art only a source of entertainment?
Studies have shown that art education plays a crucial role in child development and building a child's creative confidence. Art is a form of creative expression and it helps to discover one's feelings and ideas. Though art has plenty of benefits, the opportunities for art for children are significantly low and one of the reasons is that art is being devalued, for as a career, it is not fitting into collective norms of career roles.
There is hardly one art teacher for more than 1400 students.
In government schools, children spend less than 20 hours a year on arts. To solve the problem of shortage of art facilitators for children comes an organisation named Slam Out Loud, co-founded by Gaurav Singh and Jigyasa Labroo, who is also the CEO. They strongly agree that Arts can provide SEL and 21st-century skills to children. They offer a free space for children, allowing them to show their imagination on paper and through performance. The organisation creates quality curriculums and trains teachers and facilitators in favour of children and their learning.
What is SEL?
Definitely not jargon. It’s a very simple concept which translates to Social-emotional learning. According to Slam Out Loud, it encompasses 6 key skills including creativity, collaboration, communication, critical thinking, self esteem and empathy. Slam Out Loud aims to make students proficient in these skills by using a curriculum that imparts knowledge through art.
How does Slam Out Loud bring paints, plays and poetry into the classroom and to the students?
Team SoL explained "When we ask a child - 'How did your week go at home?', we might not get much of a response. But when we tell them to draw 5 scenes from their home from last week, we end up getting a much more detailed response."
Slam Out Loud brings art into the classroom for this very purpose of improving a child’s social and emotional knowledge, enabling them to freely express themselves. It is a for-mission, non-profit, that uses the transformative power of performance and visual arts to help build Creative Confidence skills like communication, critical thinking and empathy in children from disadvantaged communities.
Slam Out Loud inculcates Creative Confidence in children through 2 main programs – The Jijivisha Fellowship, and Arts for all program.
The Jijivisha Fellowship
The JijiVisha fellowship is a full time, year long, paid fellowship program run by Slam Out Loud. Fellows act as SEL facilitators in low income private schools in India. They use the power of arts to build creative confidence in children studying in classes 5-8, from underserved schools. The Jijivisha Fellowship enables students to build 21st century skills through 75+ hours of arts based learning per year. Fellows will not only be creating lesson plans, interacting with teachers and school administration, but will also be engaging with parents and the larger community, enabling them with SEL-based tools.
Arts for all
This arts-based SEL teacher-training programme involves training government school teachers to implement the curriculum built by Slam Out Loud. This programme utilises the weekly art classes in government schools to bring arts-based socio-emotional learning with gender and climate-action elements to the classrooms.
From September 2022 - May 2023, Slam Out Loud piloted this program under the name Project Avaza in partnership with the Punjab Government. They trained 100 government school teachers who conducted sessions with their students, reaching 3,000 children.
In 2023-24, SOL launched pilots of this programme in the states of Haryana and Maharashtra and have expanded their footprint to 3 more cities in Punjab.
How far and wide has Slam Out Loud splashed its colours?
Slam Out Loud’s programmes (in-person and digital) have directly impacted more than 65,000 children in India and ~10.5 million children globally, enabling them to develop skills to negotiate change, use creative expression to dream bigger and create their future.
What paints Slam Out Loud’s portrait of success, and how were the children’s brush strokes examined?
Children with access to Slam Out Loud’s resources have shown growth in communication (13.2%), critical thinking (8%), and self-esteem (5.6%). The 7,500+ children under the Jijivisha Fellowship run by Slam Out Loud, have shown tremendous improvement, with 75% of them growing at least 1 level on Slam Out Loud’s Creative Confidence scale.
Jigyasa Labroo, CEO and Co-Founder of Slam Out Loud, explains that much of these figures were obtained using a Likert scale method, through the children’s self-assessments, to examine social and emotional growth in the children. In addition to this, observational data from managers and teachers working with the children, were also studied. They have also conducted tests using the Rosenberg scale for self-esteem by adapting it into an Indian contextualised version for studying self esteem in the students. They have recently started shifting to more qualitative evaluation methods and are having their first shot at them, this year.
“We try to assess children by not just asking them where they are on the scale, but by engaging them through questions like ‘what do they ask someone new who joins their classroom’ and from there, assess how children are growing across the key SEL skills” says Mridula Reddy, Senior Program Manager and Program Lead for the Jijivisha Fellowship.
She details the evaluation process, explaining that
“The same assessment is administered at the start of the year and at the end of the year and we see how each child’s responses are evolving through each year”.
What stories occupy the hearts of Slam Out Loud and its participants?
“When we go into the classrooms during week 1, and see the children before intervention, they don’t speak much and very few hands go up when the facilitators throw questions across the room” says Mridula, signifying how closed off students were pre-intervention. “But when you see the same class at the end of the year it’s a completely different picture. The children are speaking, they’re taking charge, some of them are co-facilitating with the teacher, they’re more expressive and participation increases tremendously.” she adds.
These children do not fail to leave audiences in awe, during the year end showcases conducted by Slam Out Loud. Be it poetry, storytelling or any art-form you name, these children are able to perform, looking people in the eye, using voice modulation and body language, and being able to express themselves beautifully. Watching these children open up and grow their creative confidence is a measure of success that far outweighs any statistics or graphs.
A lot of Slam Out Loud students get performing opportunities, like performing at school events and inter school events.
“Whenever a parent or school teacher sees a student performing, their whole opposition to the arts and creative expression can disappear, once they see what it means for children to be on this path to finding their own voice”, says Jigyasa.
Supriya Kumari, a university student, who has been a part of Slam Out Loud starting 7th grade onwards, describes her experience as,
“a long journey that enabled me to discover myself as an artist and as a poet, and connect with people and art in a way that I couldn’t have imagined. I think my emotional learning is now incredible because of the art forms that I practise. I am now able to express myself in ways that I would not be able to if I was not performing”.
Supriya completed her enthusiastic statement, saying
“Art gives space for individuals to express themselves freely and in the best way that they can”.
What are some areas where the canvas binds Slam Out Loud?
Slam Out Loud’s Jijivisha Fellowship is indeed a spectacular initiative that is bound to take children’s creative confidence to unimaginable new heights. However, an issue that Slam Out Loud faced with this program was that students were given only 1 or 2 hours in a week to express themselves freely in a safe space. They longed for such creative freedom in other aspects of their life too. Nevertheless, an organisation with creativity at its core, wonderfully managed to solve this issue by starting to make the Jijivisha Fellowship a full time model. Using arts as a medium to build relationships with parents and teachers, the Jijivisha Fellowship is helping to surround each child with an ecosystem of safe spaces so they feel safe to express themselves wherever they go.
Most schools have had a positive response to Slam Out Loud’s work. When approached for the first time, they are often happy to give way for the program and give space for a teacher to come into the school to conduct it. There have however been push backs at times for art not being a need-have. While that has been minimal, the initial confusion shown by schools, not quite understanding what Slam Out Loud plans to do, is quite inevitable. But once they are given a demo session, they see how children share a lot more and open up while using an art based medium.
Slam Out Loud has taken an oath to nurture all artforms to not only help the next Shakespeare take their stage but to also make today’s youth socially and emotionally knowledgeable in order to take their wonderful place in society.
This solutions focussed story has been written by students journalists of the Re-Imagining Media program and edited by Team Via News Didi. We are thankful to Ms. Jigyasa Labroo, Ms. Mridula Reddy and Ms. Supriya Kumari for their time and insights.
A message for Sol-mates Jigyasa, Mridula and Supriya from us students journalists
Dear Slam Out Loud,
We are ever so grateful for being given this amazing opportunity to interacting with you. Stuttering and stammering we stepped into the interview, only to spend one unforgettable hour with the most down-to-earth and delightful people. Jigyasa Labroo, Mridula Reddy and Supriya Kumari, enlightened us with statistics and stories of Slam Out Loud’s work. No questions were left unanswered and no minds left uninspired. Hearing the panellists talk about their aweinspiring programs and talented students, we realised that where passion sprouts to bring about change, success blooms. A favourite moment for the entire group, was probably the part of the interview when Jigyasa told us the origin story of the name “Slam Out Loud”; A fascinating start for a fantastic organisation.
We, Team 1, The Media Mavericks thank you once again for spending time with us and being a part of our journey to becoming student journalists.