The Heyyo Media group, through their 'My Classroom Campaign', is brightening up classrooms, all over India, with colourful art on the walls
Photos: Students of the St. Ignatius Lower Primary school at Kochi, along with the Heyyo Media group members; (From left): Jayakrishnan G. Pillai, Founder-Director of Heyyo Media, Creative Head PA Sreejith and Sumi Thomas, Content Head. Pics by Albin Mathew
By Shevlin Sebastian
During the lunch-break, on most days, seven-year-olds Prijith P and Abhirami Rajesh would rush to stand against the wall of their classroom at the St. Ignatius Lower Primary school at Kochi. There is an illustration of a smiling giraffe holding a baby monkey. Beside it is a scale to measure the height. Prijith looks at Abhirami and says, “I am taller.” Abhirami shakes her head and says, “No, I am.”
Their class teacher Sheeja Raju smiles indulgently. “They do this nearly every afternoon,” she says. “All the children now enjoy coming to school.”
The transformation happened a couple of months ago. Members of the Heyyo Media, an interactive agency, transformed the drab walls, with more than 60 illustrations. These include drawings of houses, a monkey reclining on the branch of a tree, a smiling dragon, various types of fishes and octopuses, as well as maps of Kerala and India.
On a recent morning, nine-year-old Nasir Ali leads a visitor to his favourite illustration: it is the Aesop’s Fable, of a thirsty crow trying to fill a pitcher, which has very little water, with pebbles, to raise the water level.
“Thanks to these illustrations, teaching has become easier,” says Headmistress MG Sindhu. The classes, in one large hall, comprise students from Class 1 to 4. “They are the children of labourers,” says Sindhu. “There is also a colony nearby where a lot of Maharastrians live. Their parents and grandparents have studied here. So, they continue to send their children to our school.”
Asked why they took the initiative, Jayakrishnan G. Pillai, Founder-Director, says, “At Heyyo, we believe in giving back to society. But we wanted to do something creative. My team and, particularly, [Creative Head] PA Sreejith, who is an artist, can draw well. We began discussing the possibilities regarding art and schools, and changing lives. Then a colleague Joffy V Cyriac said, 'Why don't we paint a classroom?' And that was how we began the 'My Classroom Campaign'.”
Meanwhile, the Campaign has begun to spread its wings. On December 15, last year, they were at the 'City of Los Angeles' school in Matunga, Mumbai. But when they first walked in, and tried to take off some posters, they got a shock: the cement came off. “We could see the brick layer underneath,” says Sreejith. “We realised that we had to do a lot more.”
So, three layers of primer were applied. “Fortunately Shalimar Paints came forward and provided all the material that was required,” says Content Head Sumi Thomas.
In February, the members travelled to Noida, where they painted a classroom for the NGO, My Perch. “In March, we worked on nine classrooms in two schools, Government Lower Primary School, Puthuvype, Kochi, and Kumar Shala in Vapi, Gujarat,” says Pillai. “In 2017, our aim is to do 50 classrooms across the country.”
(Sunday Magazine, The New Indian Express, South India and Delhi)