‘Selah’ Art Program hosts first art therapy workshop to benefit UAE orphans
Dubai – 17 November, 2015: The Cultural Office of Her Highness Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum recently hosted the ‘Introduce Myself’ workshop, which marked the start of the year-long ‘Selah’ Art Program, designed to help underprivileged children and orphans develop self-awareness, cognitive and creative skills through the therapeutic value of expressive arts.
As part of the ‘Introduce Myself’ workshop, the children were assigned an artistic task to encourage creative self-expression as a form of introduction. The children were allocated instructions on how to establish group rules and boundaries to initially build trust within the group. Volunteer artists gifted painting and drawing materials to the children who were tasked to create life size portraits based on their likes and dislikes, visually expressing their personality traits and identity in order to introduce themselves to one another and facilitate a connection with the group. Following the practical brief, the children discussed their art creations with one another, creating a fun, collaborative and supportive environment.
Mona Bin Kalli, Director of The Cultural Office, said: “We are delighted with the outcomes of the first ‘Introduce Myself’ session. Art brings out a willingness to participate, communicating visual forms of emotional and creative expression without critical judgment and the ‘Selah’ Art Program is vital to helping young children with the required emotional and psychological healing to become well-rounded adults and invaluable members of their community.”
She continued: “We were inspired by the achievements made by the children who all participated in the ‘Introduce Myself’ workshop, openly connecting with one another and discussing their paintings and drawings with pride and confidence. We were also sincerely heartened by the enthusiastic Emirati artists who generously donated their valuable time to volunteer for the program and positively reinforced the creative process in the children by developing their artistic and creative thinking skills in a secure environment.”
Organised by The Cultural Office, the first art therapy session, ‘Introduce Myself’ was conducted by Emirati volunteer artists, in association with AWQAF.
The success of the first ‘Selah’ Art workshop reaffirmed Her Highness Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s commitment to humanitarian causes, philanthropic campaigns and nurturing the continued development of the UAE’s arts and culture scene with dedicated Emirati volunteers from the local arts community. The artist volunteers are encouraged to take an active role with the orphaned children, cultivating social interaction, honing their creativity and feeding their imagination by instilling confidence and facilitating a safe and empathetic environment for social inclusion and mutual support.
In preparation for the Program, The Cultural Office recently organised a special 3-day training workshop for the Emirati volunteer artists to equip them with the necessary teaching skills to better engage with underprivileged and vulnerable children, increase their practical knowledge of art education therapy and develop specialist techniques to provide necessary psychosocial support. The participating artists included Khawla Darwish, Noor Al Suwaidi, Shamma Al Amri and Hind Demithan.
The 12-month ‘Selah’ Art Program is set to benefit disadvantaged orphans and minors aged between 4 and 9 and between 10 and 16 years of age across all seven Emirates. The year-long program of artistic education and expression will culminate in an art exhibition that will showcase the children’s art achievements during the workshops, honing their sense of creativity and enabling the children to become more self-aware of their thoughts, emotions, and core beliefs by connecting to their work, giving them the opportunity to grow and develop self-confidence.
Her Highness remains committed to the importance of Arts programs in the full development of children’s cognitive growth, development and healing abilities. Expressive Arts Therapy programs include drawing, painting, sculpture, music and drama which encourage creative expression and the ability of projective creativity to bypass defensive qualities. Various studies have linked arts participation to positive emotional, social, physical and spiritual growth, improving the prospects of disadvantaged and vulnerable children into education and engagement at schools and contributing to their local communities.