Innovation Lab

The Dreamcatching Model


innovationlab1We begin by engaging a young person’s memory – recalling instances from life where the young person has chosen to affirm life for oneself and others. Remembering when the young person has shown strength, compassion, courage, has expressed joy, felt abundant and free.

By recalling through the senses – what did it look like? What did it sound like? How did it feel to touch it? How did it feel within the heart? And by expressing these insights through art and sharing, the young person grounds this experience of wholeness in the body.

Slowly, over many such discovery based reflections, the young person begins to break new ground for oneself. A new foundation begins to take shape whose origin lies in self awareness, the practice of reflection and remembering one’s life affirming behaviors. The focus here lies in creating learning environments founded on deep listening.



innovationlab2Exploring through multiple perspectives, young people begin to look at traditionally held patterns and beliefs in their life and reframe them. They practice how to look at life and complex situations without the voice of judgment that splits things into simple binaries of “right or wrong;” “either- or.”

Instead they learn to hold contradiction and paradox by cultivating the attitude of “this and that” “yes and no” and exploring the outcomes that can be arrived at through such a mindset.

Thus traditionally what was seen as powerless can be re-imagined as latent with creative energy, what was held as stuck can now be seen as an opportunity to leap forward.

As a result there is focus on understanding and valuing differences, disrupting regular patterns of thinking and looking at the world from a previously unexplored point of view.


What arouses hope about the future? Who do I want to be? What do I want to be? What do I want to be a part of and participate in actively?

Through different reflective practices young people sense and give voice to their longings, hopes and dreams; the future that one is drawn to create. Drawing upon these insights, a young person then models and creates the future they wish to bring into reality.

The young person is invited to look at their unfolding path from many different perspectives; including – What will nurture the young person’s growth and development? What will a young person need to learn to make it happen? How will the external world perceive the direction the young person seeks to choose? How will it be challenged in the world? Who will support it? What will be the milestones of achievement? What are the initial steps?

Working together with peers and through empathetic listening and dialogue; a young person finds clarity on how to walk the bridge between the now and the goal oriented future.


In this new effort, how are achievements celebrated? How are learnings remembered and integrated? How are failures turned into insights for the future? What is arousing curiosity? Is the young person able to continually make life affirming choices?

To be awake, making new connections and arriving at new insights is a time of high creativity.

The life that is to be created thus becomes the initial prototype. The spotlight is on being able to embrace change, choose that which affirms life and be engaged in a cycle of continuous improvement.


The Dreamcatchers Innovations Lab has successfully created innovative models in the fields of Healing and Transformation, Life Skills, Intergenerational Work, Disability, Changemaking and Entrepreneurship.

Healing and Transformation

The core focus of the healing and transformation work is to transform the experience of powerlessness and vulnerability brought on by difficult life situations.
Dreamcatchers works with young people coping with:

  • vulnerable life situations post disaster, conflict, forced migrations and refugees
  • growing up in difficult circumstances being abandoned, alone and abused
  • seeking inclusion into mainstream social and economic life after generations of being discriminated,
  • vast changes in social, cultural and economic aspects of community life due to rapid industrialization as in indigenous communities
  • simply trying to find their sense of place and purpose in an ever-changing complex world

A Program to guide children and young people in shelter homes, orphanages and transition homes to rediscover their own meaning, build common ground within their communities and find their voice. It aims to nurture youth leadership and train youth workers to convene conversation spaces to explore and discuss that which matters in the lives of children.

Life Skills

Dreamcatchers Programs aim at helping young people learn and imbibe positive Life Skills such as Self-awareness, Problem-solving and Critical Thinking.

Educate Girls Globally
Dreamcatchers designed a life skills toolkit for EGG. This life skills tool kit is being used in EGG programs in Govt schools in Rajasthan.


Lifesight was Dreamcatchers first endeavour to work with the disabled children. It started when Poonam – a visually challenged colleague joined Dreamcatchers. With Poonam and her other visually challenged friends we began with the question “What is the heart of the visually challenged child longing for?”

This triggered the naming of deep seated emotional needs and longings from their life experience. These responses have been worked into broad thematic areas that form the basis of our curriculum. This project sowed the seeds for Dreamcatchers approach to children with special needs was born.
Poonam reflects that “the unique methods of Dreamcatchers work will unite visually challenged people. It will allow them to go through the journey of self-exploration (who they are) and meet their potential at the fullest.”

Intergenerational Work

One of the most innovative and path breaking framework of Dreamcatchers is the Intergenerational work. Through this children learn with adults from their own communities.

Wave of Life
In the aftermath of the Tsunami, the greatest burden of an altered landscape fell upon the children in the villages. By convening Community Wisdom Circles where the diverse generations of the community could come and share their wisdom with the children; the children created a new healing space in their communities.
This model has been recognized as an innovative and outstanding approach that engages children and community towards renewal and recovery post crisis.


Youth Ventures
How does a young person realize the power of passion to create social change? What kind of a support does a young person need from different groups in society to nurture, mentor and inspire him/her to continue taking the risk to dream?

THE YV CHALLENGE offers young people in the age group of 18 – 22 the opportunity to work on a social change idea that has been born out of their passion by offering seed capital. Dreamcatchers has created the design and content of the challenge. The Challenge is designed as a community of peers; where each supports the other to succeed. In addition; an intergenerational community of changemakers representing diverse segments of the economic and social spectrum support, mentor and nurture the idea development-implementation cycle of the youth teams.
Core areas of leadership development:

  • Building a social change-making idea,
  • problem solving,
  • team building,
  • understanding how to utilize seed capital to promote more growth and innovation,
  • defining strategies for create the desired change.

Launched in the city of Mumbai in 2007; over 35 teams and a total of 96 young people have developed ideas for social change. In addition, the program has now been launched amongst indigenous youth in Sonegadh, Gujarat where 12 teams are leading ideas for change within their communities.


Sensing Futures
A small loan can initiate the organizing of basic economic activity for youth post disaster; but how does one unleash the entrepreneurial thinking?
CCFID based in Cuddalore in partnership with Youthreach, New Delhi, began a small loan program for youth group entrepreneurs post the Tsunami. A year into the program; groups needed to develop their businesses by making entrepreneurial choices; determined by the forces of the market. Dreamcatchers developed Sensing Futures as life skills for these youth led small businesses. It offered youth the opportunity to build their business through problem solving and strategic thinking skills.

Core areas of leadership development:

  1. inspire innovative thinking
  2. encourage intelligent risk-taking
  3. emerge creative solutions
  4. generate motivation and inclusion
  5. promote problem-solving
  6. nurture strategic thinking
  7. call for making friends with change.

The program was most successful in:

  • inspiring the core implementing team of 15 facilitators to begin their own small businesses and thereby meet the entrepreneur within themselves
  • becoming a core component of the Training Resource Center at CCFID and being offered to other organizations working on building entrepreneurship with youth
  • reaching over 50 youth group enterprises

The Dreamcatchers Innovations Lab creates program for children and youth by bringing together principles from Architecture, Creative Arts, Contemplative Work, Leadership, Innovations and Design Thinking.


These frameworks are normally the domain of adult learning and seldom find their way in work with children. We found resonance in these fields as they explore how simple ideas can combine to inspire visions for creation. They are also founded on the insight that creation and destruction are cyclical and not to be feared. What matters most in any moment is to pick up the pieces and re-imagine and re –create.

These insights form the heart of our practice at the Dreamcatchers Innovations Lab.

The Lab designs programs wherein the possible is revealed through a “breakthrough” experience and followed up with positive insights and transformative actions in the following areas of a young person’s life:

  1. Individual possibility: whereby a young person can encounter the opportunity to transform fear into awareness and clarity
  2. Social circumstance: the recognition by a young person that they can change the circumstances
  3. Sense of agency: to enable a young person to give power and permission to insight and intuition to determine choices, goals and next steps in life




How might we democratize learning from teacher-based to student led and expand the time of sense-making for students?

In collaboration with Parson New School of Design, Dreamcatchers is engaging teachers and students to learn how to create classroom to learn from the emerging future.  Led by Ricardo Dutra of Parsons and Sonali Ojha of Dreamcatchers, Flip it forward is a s a Lab that investigates, imagines and tests new possibilities for the future of education.




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