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Paper Boat Voyaging beyond the horizon

Newly established as Paper Boat in 2020 but drawing on a rich legacy of supporting education and skills development in India for more than 50 years - our purpose is to inspire and enable young people to change their world. We currently work in India and Thailand, but our approach can be adopted and adapted anywhere in the world.

At the core of ‘how we work’ are child-centred creative learning spaces (called Children’s Hubs) that equip young people with the skills, experience and personal qualities needed for creative problem solving and leading change in their communities. We work with local experts and grassroots community-based partners who help us to set up and run these hubs. Children’s Hubs are community-owned spaces where children come to learn and play after school – helping to reinforce and extend what they learn in school.

Artist and creative lead Guna sees learning as collaborative and co-creative. ‘Everything is my teacher’ he says, ‘a glass of water can teach me something about light if I use my imagination’.

Our approach is inspired by MIT Media Lab's Learning Creative Learning Programme which highlights a Creative Learning Spiral that invites children to:

By setting sail on this creative learning journey children are supported to design small scale projects that help them to respond to opportunities and challenges in their lives and in their communities. For example, a young girl might be motivated to tackle the problem of plastic pollution in her neighbourhood and come up with a brilliantly creative idea to solve it. Through our Children’s Hubs, and the wider Paper Boat Community, we connect her to the resources and expertise that will help her launch her project... giving her ‘little Paper Boat’ the wind it needs to set sail on an ocean of endless possibility.

Building on experience as we voyage further...

Our Journey So Far...

Building on experience in order to unlock the infinite potential of every child.

In the final pages of his story, one that lasted more than 50 years and helped thousands of children to break away from poverty, our founder wrote “in the twilight before I sleep, I hope that my life’s work may continue to help with new initiatives”. The last words on that page were lines from his favourite poem by Robert Frost - “I have promises to keep/And miles to go before I sleep”.

...that page has been re-folded into a paper boat that can float on and on under the midnight stars towards a world that unlocks the infinite potential of every child. The same world that our founder had set sail for all those years ago...

Inspiring children to change their world...

The Journey Within...

Inspiring children to change their world.

Creative learning spaces give children a chance to learn about their rights and their own inherent value when they may be otherwise surrounded by negative messages. Paper Boat develops and shares tools in collaboration with expert local partners, strategic partners who help to advise and deliver, and our community of educational specialists. Within these learning spaces children can build their confidence, resilience and acceptance of self through creative entry points such as filmmaking, social drama, art, music and storytelling. Every child is supported and encouraged to believe in their own worth and to share their stories and their ideas however they see best.

Paper boats are fragile and need to be folded carefully in order to float, but when they are made, the thumbprints and messages that children place upon those seams can be carried to distant places. Dreams and ideas can also be fragile, especially those of children who face rougher seas than most of us could imagine. We are there to equip, nurture, support, guide and invest in their ideas. To believe in them loudly and encourage them that they too have the right to strive for their dreams and to do things differently, and that they are worthy of being at the helm and can steer towards whatever horizon calls them.

Enabling children to change their world...

The Journey Beyond...

Enabling children to change their world.

Creative learning spaces teach children to be innovative, to problem solve and to navigate the rough seas. Evidence shows that creative and critical thinking skills are an essential part of learning, and that today’s solutions will not be fit for tomorrow’s problems. Paper Boat develops and supports programmes and partners that build these skills as children play.

These spaces encourage children to identify problems in their own communities and work together, with the support of facilitators and community collectives, to bring their own fresh minds and solutions to these problems. Children are given access to platforms that amplify the quietest voices on a global scale and allow others to invest directly in their ideas.

Setting sail on an ocean of endless possibility...

Why “Paper Boat”

Paper boats speak to the child in all of us because making paper boats is something that children from diverse cultures have done for hundreds of years. From rural India and urban Japan to wealthy Kenya and poor America. Transcending status and privilege, this simple, playful and creative act inspires joy and wonder in the hearts and minds of children. In making a paper boat, a child learns to create something new with what they have, and to see their imagination shape reality. A piece of plain paper or scrap of discarded magazine is transformed – two dimensions become three. Imagination takes wing and then takes shape.

Simple, beautiful, ephemeral – we need to look after our paper boats. Paper boats that embody a child’s dream - a hope that their fragile little vessel will defy all odds, traverse mighty flowing rivers and navigate boundless oceans to reach distant shores. Pushing the paper boat down-stream or launching it on a vast ocean is an act of hope, of faith, of daring to dream...the journey that the little paper boat can take is one of infinite possibility.
As a charity we are working towards a world that unlocks the infinite potential of every child. We celebrate spaces where children can enjoy their childhood, delight in creative learning and which instill in them the confidence to set sail and navigate their own unique journey through life.
Keep your eyes on the horizon for a new website coming to this space soon!

Paper Boats

By Rabindranath Tagore

“Day by day I float my paper boats one by one down the running ​ stream...
In big black letters I write my name on them and the name of ​ the village where I live.
I hope that someone in some strange land will find them and ​ know who I am.
I load my little boats with shiuli flower from our garden, and​
Hope that these blooms of the dawn will be carried safely to land ​in the night.
I launch my paper boats and look up into the sky and see the little clouds setting their white bulging sails...
I know not what playmate of mine in the sky sends them down ​ the air to race with my boats!
When night comes I bury my face in my arms and dream that my ​ paper boats float on and on under the midnight stars.
The fairies of sleep are sailing in them, and the lading is their baskets full of dreams.

Our ambition is to shape world class creative learning spaces where children at the margins connect, play, create and imagine.

Contact us to find out more about how you can be a part of this story and voyage with us beyond the known horizon.

Together we can unlock the infinite potential of every child.

Registered Charity No. 1006060 - Paper Boat is a working name of the Joe Homan Charity