The Revolutionary Optimists is a multi-platform advocacy campaign mobilising children in Kolkata, India, to go door-to-door with home-made megaphones, mobile phone technology, and global positioning system (GPS) maps. They encourage neighbours to participate in polio vaccination programmes and track and collect data around health issues that impact them - water, sanitation, and infectious diseases.
The Revolutionary Optimists is captured by a documentary to be released in 2013. Filmed over the course of several years (beginning in 2008), The Revolutionary Optimists follows social entrepreneur Amlan Ganguly, who uses popular media to engage and educate children in an interactive, problem-posing approach, and "the Daredevils", a group of youth in one of Kolkata's squatters colonies - a place that cannot even be found on the map. The Daredevils undertook to make their own map of their colony and have been tracking and collecting data around health issues that impact them: water, sanitation, and infectious diseases. One storyline: "By mapping their un-mapped community and collecting data about the problems that they face, [11-year-old] Salim and his fellow child activists hope to convince the government to give them a water tap" As documented in the film, the Daredevils have turned a trash dump into a soccer field, lobbied for electricity, and decreased diarrhoea and malaria rates in their neighbourhood.
Map Your World adds technology to this equation. Using cell phones, the Daredevils can upload data at the moment of collection into a database that is linked to a digital online community map. For example, they can track each child born in their colony and record bi-weekly updates about vaccination statistics by sending an SMS text from their cell phone directly to a database. Map Your World automatically links this data to a map, hand drawn by the children, that is overlaid to actual GPS coordinates. The live online map will show them which children need polio vaccination each month and where those children live, so they can target their outreach campaigns and make sure those children get to the polio booth. Map Your World also allows them to print out evidence of the impact they have made.
Approximately 40% of children had visited the vaccination centre prior to the launch of the programme. That has risen to 80%, and activists are hoping to get close to 100% vaccine-uptake rates in the years to come.
The short version of the film premiered at a TEDx event in April 2012. The feature film was part of the 2011 Sundance Documentary Edit and Story Lab at the Sundance Resort.
Independent Television Service (ITVS), Sundance Institute, Skoll Foundation, the Fledgling Fund, The Global Fund for Children, The Greenwall Foundation.