Children First and Teamwork Arts present IMAGINE: A day-long forum to inspire a movement

Building emotionally safe spaces for children & youth

  •    first-of-its-kind conclave to be held on 26th October 2018 at Zorba, MG Road, New Delhi on child and adolescence mental health.
  • Experienced professionals from diverse fields in mental health, disability, education, and advocacy will come together to create a community of concern and share multiple perspectives and expertise, creating space for collaboration and resolution.
  • Key speakers include Dr. Sue JenningsDr. Nandita De SouzaDr. Vibha KrishnamurthyProf. Shekhar Sheshadri, among others.

New Delhi: Current research chillingly states that one in four people in the world are affected by mental health disorders. WHO reports that 50% of mental health disorders manifest before 14 years of age and puts 30% of young Indians as having been diagnosed with mental illness; reality far exceeds that number. India has been affected by an alarming increase in depression and mental illnesses and suicide is the leading cause of death amongst our youth.

IMAGINE, a collaboration between child and adolescent mental health institute Children First, and Teamwork Arts, a pioneering entertainment company committed to social action, has been conceived as a movement to combat this disturbing corrosion of the mental health of our young. IMAGINE will be held on 26th October 2018 in Delhi bringing together national and global experts to share ideas and practices that can make this world emotionally safer for children and youth.

IMAGINE’s gathering of influencers will include psychologists, occupational therapists, educators, special educators, psychiatrists, paediatricians, NGOs and policy makers, participating in debates and discussions, identifying hurdles and seeking solutions. Young people and parents too will join in to share their perspectives.

The one-day forum aims to begin a critical and much-needed conversation around building emotionally safe environments for individuals from birth to 25 years of age, especially within the disquieting context of marginalizing experiences like mental illness, disability, sexual orientation and gender issues.

“Emotional safety is a pre-requisite for a child to live a joyful life where he or she can grow, thrive and flourish. Therefore, it becomes our responsibility to come together and build ecosystems that our children deserve.”, said Dr. Shelja Sen, one of the co-founders of Children First.

Mr. Sanjoy Roy, Managing Director, Teamwork Arts, said, “An escalating depletion of mental resources in children and adolescents is currently at a tipping point and needs to be tackled with effective tools and vast pools of collective empathy and experience. The time to do this is now: we need to think with the strength of all our expertise and begin the narrative of change.”

IMAGINE will target three main themes:

  • Nurturing Early Years – Moderated by child and adolescent psychiatrist and co-founder of Children First, Dr. Kavita Arora, this section will focus on understanding neurodevelopment and practices to facilitate growth and development through play, sensory input and building attachment with caregivers. It will include Stories by Dr. Sue Jennings, and a discussion on Early Intervention by the Children First developmental services team.

  • Scaffolding Strengths – Moderated by child and adolescent psychologist, family therapist and co-founder of Children First, Dr. Shelja Sen, the sessions will feature  Dr. Vibha Krishnamurthy, Dr. Nandita De Souza and Ms. Jo Chopra as they share experiences ofhelping existing systems and spaces become more inclusive and child friendly – advocating for children who are at risk of being marginalized in schools and neighbourhoods; empowering parents and professionals to advocate for children and facilitating children to further inclusion for each other.


  • Building Ecosystems – Moderated by Dr. Amit Sen, co-founder and director of Children First, and the founder of the mental health programme at Salaam Baalak Trust, this segment will address the need to create spaces and systems to cater to the needs of children and youth who fall beyond the purview of existing systems. This session will localize mental health in the community with a session by Prof. Shekhar Seshadri on deinstitutionalizing mental health, and by Mr. Sanjoy Roy highlighting the concerns of children who live on the streets and in underserved communities.


Key Speakers at Imagine include:


  • Ms. Jo Chopra, Director, Latika Roy Foundation and Advocate for people with disabilities
  • Dr. Sue Jennings, Neuro-dramatic Play Therapist and Trainer
  • Mr. Sanjoy Roy, Managing Director, Teamwork Arts and Founder Trustee, Salaam Balak Trust
  • Prof. Shekhar Seshadri, Head of Child & Adolescent Department, NIMHANS
  • Dr. Vibha Krishnamurthy, Developmental Paediatrician, Founder, Ummeed Child Developmental Centre
  • Dr. Shelja Sen, Child & Adolescent Psychologist and Family Therapist, Co-Founder, Children First
  • Dr. Kavita Arora, Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist, Co-Founder, Children First
  • Dr. Amit Sen, Director, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, Co-Founder, Children First

The day will close with an evening of live music and open mic, music and poetry by young people, followed by a dinner for networking and mentoring with experts from the field.