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Collaboration – Creation of Synergies for Growth by Mitali Kulkarni

By Volunteer Mitali Kulkarni, FHI Mumbai

Collaboration is a life skill that leads to ‘2+2 being equal to 5 instead of 4’ – giving an outcome that is even greater than the inputs. It helps in pooling resources and brings out the best in us while we work collectively and internally on overcoming our vices.

Collaboration inherently contributes towards the development of other life skills as well such as communication, teamwork, listening skills, collective problem solving, and respecting the diversity of peers – to name a few. Learning collaboration at a young age leads to one’s professional development as well, as we learn to recognize the importance of the efforts put in by every individual to achieve a goal and which in turn also develops good leadership skills. Perhaps when we collaborate, we tend to identify the strengths and weaknesses of ourselves and our partners and then work out the best possible way towards achieving our common objective. Today social media plays an important role to help people from various fields to collaborate and build their brand value as well.

This makes me think – did we ever really learn how to collaborate? Or is it something that comes naturally to everyone? Collaboration may seem easy. What can go wrong, right? Well, each person has a whole different personality, skill sets, mannerisms, attitudes, and a unique upbringing. While the goal may be the same, everyone may have a different approach towards achieving it. We bring to the table not only our virtues but the vices as well. Thus it is of utmost importance for us to work together keeping aside all these contrasts. Rather we need to work our way through these incongruities to achieve the best possible results as a team and as an individual. Here are some methods/activities which may help to develop this life skill among children:

  1. Scavenger hunt: A scavenger hunt is a fun way for children to work in teams. They would need to work together to find the clues, identify them and finally find out the hidden objects. Whichever team finds the hidden object first would be the winner. This activity would help to develop communication, team building, and time management.

  2. Creativity for a cause: Children can be divided into groups. Each group would be given a topic which they need to present to others. For example, the topic can be ‘Save our planet’ and children would be asked to explain its significance through a creative method of their choice such as a skit, by making a poster, or through a song. This activity would also create an inclination among children for working together towards different social causes.

  3. Minefield race: Some obstacles (“mines”) would be placed on the ground like water bottles or balloons with a partition in between. Children would be divided into pairs. One child from each pair would be blindfolded and the other child would guide him/her to reach the finish line. Every time the blindfolded kid stumbles upon an obstruction, 5 points get deducted. 5 points get added for crossing each obstacle safely. The pair with the highest points wins. Through this activity, children would learn to give clear instructions and guide their teammates towards the goal.

  4. Dog and the bone: In this game, children would be divided into two teams and each team member would be assigned a number. Both the teams would stand in a straight line at a distance facing each other and an object like a bottle (“bone”) would be kept in a circle drawn in the middle. A volunteer would call out any number and the child from each team that has been assigned the number will quickly run towards the bottle. Players should grab the bottle and run towards their team without being tagged by the opponent. If the player gets tagged then the opposite team scores a point. Through this game, children would learn to form strategies in teams. If the player whose number has been called out is stuck and is not able to bring the bone, other team members can suggest alternatives. At the end of the game, volunteers can help children identify their attributes – like how some of them may be good at running/dodging and others may be good at strategizing. But their collective efforts made them a good team.

  5. Study or interest groups: In a group, children can keep each other motivated and maintain a healthy competition. They can set individual goals and help their friends in achieving them by sharing their own techniques. Teaching is one of the best ways to learn a concept and thus they can help each other through doubt solving.

Let us make children aware that it is not about possessing each skill inherently, that they need not feel disheartened if their friends excel at something which seems like a difficult task to them – victory lies in being aware of our weaknesses and working towards overcoming them.

#nonprofit #children #npo #collaboration #ngo #21stcenturyskills #growth #development #lifeskills #teamwork

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