Magic Bus

21 Mar 2016


A unique programme where local community leaders use sports and activity based modules to deliver vital learning to other children, changing their lives along the way.

Organisation Magic Bus
Start-end date
1999 – ongoing
Target group age
Children (ages 7-15) and youth (ages 16-25)
Over 250,000 children to date
Individual donors, corporations, foundations and events such as fundraisers and galas
Key facts
77% of Magic Bus children attend school more than five days a week and 9 out of 10 of Magic Bus children are first-generation learners getting into higher education or jobs.
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Magic Bus enables some of the world’s poorest families to move out of poverty. Through the use of a mentoring model and a sport-based curriculum, it engages children and ensures that they make the right choices so that they have a constructive journey from childhood all the way through towards better and dignified livelihoods as adults. To achieve this vision, Magic Bus works in the areas of education, health, gender, leadership, livelihood, right to play and socio-emotional learning. A child’s journey with Magic Bus begins at age 7 and continues till the age of 18, when the child moves into the world of livelihood. Through the journey, information is shared, attitudes are questioned and engaged with and perspective is built. As a result, when children have gone through a decade-long journey with the organisation, they emerge as confident, competent young people with greater control and choice in their lives.


Activity based curriculum

The Activity Based Curriculum (ABC) is a unique model that uses games and sport to make change. The curriculum comprises 40 sessions per year – each with a lesson – and teaches children about education, gender, health and key issues affecting them through playing sport. The games excel in building physical, social and personal skills, and the children learn to rethink several attitudes and behaviour related to gender difference. Each session also contains specific metaphors that encourage children to think in a focused manner on a particular area – either education or health or livelihood. The curriculum is divided into three structured modules that correlate to each of the development stages of childhood, from middle childhood through to young adulthood, to address the specific skills required by each age group.

Leaders from and for the community

Young people from the communities in which Magic Bus is active are trained over an extended period of time to emerge as able Community Youth Leaders. They function then as Mentors for children in the community, with whom they conduct the weekly sessions from the ABC. As Mentors they become enablers of learning not only during sessions, but also as role models for children across the community. As a result, children emerge as adults who have more control and choice in their lives, and who contribute confidently and constructively to a better society. The young people who mentor them move into respectable livelihoods, continuing to function as role models in their communities.

Magic Bus


Provide equal access to sport

The programme is specifically targeted at India’s poorest villages and slum settlements to support children and their families moving out of poverty. Breaking existing gender-based stereotypes is a major goal of the programme and, after participation, 96% of Magic Bus children believe that every child, regardless of gender, should get the opportunity to play.

Improve public health and well-being

Participation in the Magic Bus programme equips children with the necessary information to make positive changes in their health and hygiene habits. The main mission of the programme is to engage children in sport and teach valuable life lessons through play.


Magic Bus works with both mainstream and regional media organisations in India and abroad to mobilise supporters, donors and volunteers to be part of the cause. It also organises an annual conference for practitioners and policymakers to come together around topics such as using sport for development and peace. In addition, Magic Bus uses a variety of PR tools including relationship building strategies, press releases and press conferences, to make sure the media is aware of Magic Bus’s activities. Finally, Magic Bus manages an active online presence via its Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus accounts and the programme’s blog and dedicated website.


Rigorous monitoring and evaluation mechanisms are integral to all Magic Bus’s activities. A baseline study is conducted at the start of the programme, followed by monitoring the children’s progress throughout the programme through annual surveys with random samples of children, youth and parents to gauge progress. For community youth leaders, employability, activities in the communities and what youth are doing in leadership roles are tracked.

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