Use creative art to help kids

Neo Bodumela

NON-PROFIT organisations throughout the Eastern Cape that work with children are set to benefit from a workshop that uses the creative arts to improve the services they render to communities.

The Zakheni FireMaker Project workshops will run from next year and those who are interested in participating in the project are called to submit their applications by Friday.

The workshops are “specifically designed to deepen the psychosocial support capacity of child care workers” and are run across the country, says Zakheni’s website.

Zakheni director Lesley Palmer says the workshops aim to improve the service care workers provide to children.

“The FireMaker Project is a series of workshops which teaches child and youth care workers how to use the creative arts in their psychosocial support work with vulnerable children. Four three-day workshops see care workers, who often have had little opportunity in their own lives to play or experience the creative arts, immersed in puppet-making, enacting traditional stories, sculpting, making and playing percussion instruments.

“The FireMaker Project primarily benefits care workers who are delivering some aspect of psychosocial support to vulnerable children through support groups, aftercare groups and counselling. These care workers in turn work with children in communities affected by poverty, neglect, HIV and Aids,” says Palmer.

Palmer says the idea for the project was developed after they discovered at a 2003 conference a need to equip child care workers with appropriate skills. Palmer says various organisations present at the conference realised that a holistic approach to caring for children was needed.

“There was a growing realisation that the emotional, psychological and social well-being of these children could not be ignored. Creative arts therapists Kirsten Meyer, Linda Souchon and Lesley Bester [then] took up the challenge. [They] identified certain aspects of their work which are valuable yet safe for the child care workers to use, and could be implemented by child care workers with sufficient training and mentorship. These tools support and enhance the work the child care workers already do,” Palmer said.

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