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Dream a Dream students in India work on an activity to build life skills

Dream a Dream: Improving Life Skills in the Classroom

Project Overview

Children who face adversity like poverty, neglect, and violence are often stunted in the development of life skills needed to thrive. These circumstances result in prolonged or excessive activation of stress response systems in the body and brain, creating damaging effects on learning, behavior, and health across the lifespan.

Our work with Dream a Dream in India helps children growing up in poverty move toward a better future by cultivating the social, mental, and emotional skills that are foundational to strong relationships, mental health, and job security. Through an after-school program and teacher development, Dream a Dream supports more than 3.2 million students in India.

When young people come from spaces of adversity, they need life skills to overcome those challenges.

Suchetha Bhat, Chief Operating Officer of Dream a Dream

How it Helps

Dream a Dream’s after-school program engages young people who are 8-15 years old through arts and team sports. These structured activities teach students important life skills like understanding and following instructions, managing conflict, taking initiative, overcoming difficulties, solving problems, and interacting with others.

The program uses a custom-developed Dream Life Skills Assessment Scale (DLSAS) to help children, teachers, and their parents track progress and evaluate gaps. In 2018, HundrED acknowledged the DLSAS as one of the most innovative, impactful and scalable solutions in K-12 education globally. It is the only known measurement scale for life skills in children who are overcoming significant adversity.

Dream a Dream also trains teachers to infuse empathy, creativity, and appreciation into their classrooms and education materials to advance life skills for their students. By intervening during a critical stage of development, Dream a Dream and its teachers positively change the trajectory of children facing adversity.

Recognizing the success of the program, the Delhi Government selected Dream a Dream as a partner for its Happiness Curriculum used in more than 1,000 secondary schools in the state. Our experience in systemic K-12 education reform work shows us the power of such government implementations to deliver scaled impact, and we continue working to expand the reach of Dream a Dream’s standardized curriculum and methodology.

Foundation Project Lead