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10.1.2023 | Dr. Connie K Chung

Dream a Dream’s new book unravels what we need to do to help young people thrive

When young people thrive, communities thrive – Our selected innovator Dream a Dream just published a new book that shows us how.

When We Thrive, Our World Thrives: Stories of Young People Growing Up with Adversity is an invitation for people to relook at the way young people coming from vulnerable backgrounds are perceived. The key message is to focus on their strengths instead of their deficits and highlight what they can offer in addition to what they need. The twenty stories of young people shed light on what matters to them as they live through challenging life circumstances with the support of Dream a Dream’s staff and programmes.

Dream a Dream is an India-based non-profit organisation that empowers young people from vulnerable backgrounds to thrive in a fast-changing world. Over the last 23 years, Dream a Dream has offered life skills development programmes for over one million children.

“Young people are not defined by their adversity, and with the proper support, they can thrive.”

The innovation partnered with Dr. Connie K. Chung, EdD, to tell the stories of young people and integrate findings from research literature into the book. Through stories and evidence from research that shows why certain practices are powerful, the book illustrates that young people are not defined by their adversity, and that with proper support, they can thrive. It is an attempt to create a mindset shift among young people and the learning ecosystem to more fully understand the kinds of supports that young people need. While the stories do not reflect "everything is perfect" or portray the young people as "heroes", it gives us hope and shows that when young people thrive, our communities can thrive. An excerpt from the book brings this understanding to life:

"Research about adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) shows that those with higher ACEs scores are more likely to suffer from negative health, social, and economic consequences later in life. Based on the circumstances of his childhood, Prasanna, a graduate of Dream a Dream programme, scores a nine out of 10 for his ACE profile. This means that he faced a number of difficult circumstances while growing up. 

Yet, today, Prasanna is married to his childhood sweetheart, Sukanya, and is the father of a baby girl. Having earned a Bachelor of Arts in Business Economics, he works full-time as a communications staff member at Dream a Dream. He is currently pursuing a second BA degree in law by taking classes part-time. He is financially supporting his brother and his mother. Prasanna has great hopes that his daughter will have a different childhood than his, firmly believing that “what happened to me in my childhood should not happen to my child.” 

Prasanna’s background of adversity, while part of his history, did not lead to the consequences that research predicted and does not define his present. How is his story possible?"

Prasanna's story represents millions of children in India and elsewhere who face similar adverse circumstances while growing up. Yet Prasanna was able to thrive. His story is an example of the impact a nurturing environment and a caring adult can have on young people coming from backgrounds of adversity.

Get immersed in Prasanna’s and 19 other young people’s stories, and get your copy of the book. When We Thrive, Our World Thrives: Stories of Young People Growing Up With Adversity by Connie K. Chung, EdD, Vishal Talreja, and Dream a Dream staff is available in all the biggest online bookstores.