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Protsahan's HEART Program

The HEART Principle is the foundation of Protsahan’s Art Based Program to address trauma in children.

The HEART Program is a unique arts & technology based model of working with adolescent girls from underserved communities who are at risk or are survivors of abuse. Elements of the program work cohesively to break the inter-generational cycle of childhood abuse and poverty with Holistic Healing (of Abuse & Trauma), Education, Art interventions for Life Skills training, Recovery, and Technology.

HundrED 2022


HundrED has selected this innovation to

HundrED 2022

HundrED 2021

HundrED 2020

Visual Arts in Education

Web presence






May 2019
The success of SDG Vision 2030 depends on our decision to invest in adolescent girls through digital & art innovation through the lens of intersectionality for her enhanced agency.

About the innovation

Healing The Trauma of Child Abuse Through Creative Arts & Technology

Why Does Protsahan Exist?

Protsahan is a Hindi word that literally translates to Encouragement.

In the neighborhood where Protsahan’s Center of Excellence was established in 2010, a large population of young adolescent girls (0.4 million) has been completely neglected by the parents and the community. 83% girls did not have access to safe learning spaces, psychosocial counseling services, creative life skills, access to information & internet, quality education, toilets, clean drinking water, proper nutrition, or adequate healthcare. Parents prefer to spend money on the sons instead of daughters because it is considered that only sons would grow up to assume financial responsibility of the family, and bring in dowry when they get married. Daughters, the parents believe, cost them dowry at the time of their wedding and leave homes after marriage, and hence they don’t invest in their education, healthcare, or empowerment at all. They are married as child brides so that parents have to spend less on the dowry or education. These factors combine into a very explosive situation for the girls with as many as 89% girls reporting sexual violence before they turned 12 in the urban slum communities where we work. Protsahan believes that a sustainable solution lies in understanding this intersectionality which is pertinent to empowering the agency of an adolescent girl who gets constantly disempowered at every step of her life. This philosophy is the foundation of our HEART principle - Holistic Healing (of Abuse & Trauma), Education, Art interventions for Life Skills training, Recovery, and Technology.

To address this situation and give agency to the adolescent girls, Protsahan India Foundation works with vulnerable and at-risk populations of adolescent girls using the creative power of Arts and Technology to:

  • Empower adolescent girls and promote gender equity

  • Promote life skills among adolescent girls based on our H.E.A.R.T. work model

  • Promote menstrual health & hygiene, and educate adolescent girls about sexual & reproductive health

  • Promote mental & physical health and well being, prevent and heal the trauma of child abuse by transforming broken childhoods and adolescence into educated, psychologically healed & financially empowered women

We work directly with girls at our center in Delhi to usher them into a dignified adulthood with non-negotiable high school education, and life skills that lead them towards psycho-social and socio-economic stability. We also work directly with school teachers through strategic partnerships and collaborations across the country that impact more than 28000 adolescent girls each year.

What Would Happen If Protsahan Did Not Exist?

If Protsahan did not exist, the girls in this community would not have had access to education, resources and knowledge about menstrual health & hygiene, personal safety, life skills, or reproductive health and rights.

  • 828 girls would have ended up in extremely vulnerable situations as child brides, victims of incest and child sexual abuse, out of school, and completely devoid of healthy adolescence.

  • All of these girls now have access to trauma informed compassionate care through arts, support for school enrollment and academics, access to learning computers, toy libraries, martial arts, family counseling to keep them in school and continue with higher education, psycho-social counseling, healthcare, and nutrition. 84% of these girls have shown a marked increase in their school results, improved learning outcomes, and are becoming truly empowered.

  • 28000 girls would not have been reached each year and made aware about menstrual health & hygiene, sexual & reproductive health & rights, and child protection services. They would not have gone on to make powerful cinema (feature length films) and curate issue based photo exhibitions that shook their communities out of apathy towards adolescent girls and take concrete action towards building toilets, reporting child abuse on 1098 national helpline, enrolling them in schools, and delaying the age of marriage from 13 to 21.

  • 1200 teachers would not have been mobilized as child rights ambassadors who currently work with different health and education focused organizations in the country. Protsahan has reached out to them through specific child protection training workshops that focus on POCSO Act (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act), CSA, and the intersectionality between child protection and child development.

  • Each year, 120-200 girls from most vulnerable backgrounds would not have access to life skills training at Protsahan which includes personal safety education (good touch bad touch and training against child sexual abuse), critical & creative thinking, everyday problem solving & decision making, effective communication & social skills, interpersonal relationships, coping with emotions & stress, self awareness & self-worth, greater participation in governance, entrepreneurship development, leadership building & social enhancement, ease of accessing digital services, awareness of rights & entitlements, financial inclusion, mentorship & career counseling etc.

These girls come from one of the most underserved communities in the national capital of India, consisting mostly of migrant families from remote parts of the country.

At the center, each of our girls has access to a safe learning space, quality life skills education and academic support through high school, proper nutrition, basic healthcare, clean drinking water, clean toilets, knowledge on menstrual hygiene and menstrual pads as per her requirements, and a space to realize her self-worth through the creative power of arts & technology with trauma informed compassionate care.

Impact & scalability

Impact & Scalability

Protsahan addresses a clear need to help vulnerable girls in rural India through art & technology education. The impact of their program is clear from the success stories of the girls that they have worked with and also breaking the inter-generational cycle of childhood abuse. The positive effects of this program are plentiful.

HundrED Academy Reviews

The video is outstanding. It provides a clear picture of the purpose of the innovation. The idea addresses trauma in a creative way for adolescent girls. The arts are used in way that empowers girls to help them find their voices.

Really love this idea. It is needed and can be adapted in other countries. There is real research that helps to show how effective the program is.

- Academy member
Academy review results
High Impact
Low Scalability
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High Scalability
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Implementation steps


Protsahan works in extremely under resourced communities with at-risk adolescent girls. Upon enrollment, the teacher/social worker begins by empathizing with the child and understanding the possible circumstances she might be coming from. Home visits, counseling, trauma informed care would be incomplete if not administered with the backbone of Empathy. This is the foundation of the HEART Principle at Protsahan that is applied at each stage of the program.

Creative Engagement

Engage the child in the classroom through art based activities that also have the power to heal. A disengaged child is not open to any form of learning. She is introduced to LEGOs, group activities, art, dance, music, theater, and photography (if possible). Each child’s motor and cognitive skills are observed and assessed through these activities. This allows the teacher/social worker to set a baseline for each child based on her individual learning needs.

Bridge Course

Protsahan is an after-school program. It’s an augmentation of the local formal school system, not a replacement of it.

Formal school education is an absolute non-negotiable part of the process at Protsahan. The child may not have been to a formal school, or may have dropped out due to any reason in the past. She is reintroduced to a formal classroom at the earliest possible. The motor and cognitive skill assessment in Step 2 helps the teacher/social worker to assess the child’s individual learning needs, and design a Bridge Course to help her prepare for age-appropriate classroom setting. Elements of this Bridge Course are picked from the local school curriculum to help the child adjust in a formal classroom setting.

School learning outcomes are supplemented with art based interventions to maintain the child’s level of engagement in the learning process. Along with that, she is provided with extensive life skills training during the course of the day in each session she attends through these arts based interventions such as personal safety education (good touch bad touch and training against child sexual abuse) through toys, puppet, and storytelling sessions, critical & creative thinking and menstrual hygiene management through board games designed specifically for the purpose, effective communication & social skills through group activities, coping with emotions & stress through guided music meditation sessions, awareness of rights & entitlements through access to computers, etc.

This process ensures higher retention of learning through continued practice. Each child should be allowed adequate time (ideally 18-months) to complete the Bridge Course. Once she acquires consistency in her performance during practice learning sessions at Protsahan, she is considered ready for enrollment in a formal school. Her family is encouraged to enroll her at the nearest government run school with support from Protsahan social worker who sometimes assists in the necessary paperwork for the enrollment.

Once the child is enrolled in a school, she has the choice to continue coming to Protsahan after school, or discontinue Protsahan while continuing school.

Trauma Informed Compassionate Classrooms

With a continuing formal school education in an age-appropriate learning ecosystem, each girl is then introduced to the next level of after-school trauma informed compassionate classroom engagement at Protsahan.

After the Bridge Course is complete, and the child has been reintroduced to a formal classroom setting in the school, that is the time when most of the disclosures of abuse start happening as the girls begin to regain their agency. They start forming a bond of trust with their teachers/social workers at Protsahan, and it is this trust that allows the girls to open up about their past experiences. This is the time when they require the most delicate care and attention from the teachers in addressing the trauma of abuse that they might have endured in the past or are still facing in their everyday life. Trauma informed compassionate classrooms ensure that trauma that resurfaces through the practice of art, especially the trauma that is repressed over time, is addressed properly and leads to complete recovery, thereby closing the loop on the process.

The HEART Principle

HEART Principle is at the core of Trauma Informed Compassionate Classrooms. In most cases, children are known to unknowingly repress the memory of any traumatic experience they might have undergone. Education, whether formal or informal, fails to have any impact on a child unless this trauma of past experiences is healed and the process of recovery has begun. Art and technology based interventions help children concentrate, often reaching a meditative state where they can finally accept the trauma, and thereby begin the healing and recovery process through the acceptance of reality.

Teachers and social workers must be well trained and aware to identify and address the various stages of grief, anger, and acceptance that follow the realization of abuse for each child. They must also be trained to address the intersectionality of health, nutrition, and life skills in children from underserved communities who may need that extra attention.

Protsahan provides specialized training to teachers, social workers, and caregivers in setting up Trauma Informer Compassionate Care Classrooms that address the intersectionality of child abuse.

Monitoring & Evaluation

The entire program relies on constant monitoring and evaluation of progress demonstrated in each child through the steps. Each child is unique, and requires personalized attention to address the traumatic experiences from the past. Course correction, if and when required, must be backed by data that is acquired through a process of constant monitoring and evaluation.

Reaching Scale to Bring Sustainable Change

Protsahan conducts trainings with staff and teachers of other schools and non-profit organizations to impact thousands more on transforming their teaching pedagogy and working through the principles of empathy and creativity in child protection. The first 6 steps that we engage with through hundreds of at risk girls year on year, have been taken through powerful trainings with over 3800 teachers impacting over 4 million children from vulnerable circumstances by sharing best practices.

Spread of the innovation

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