Aware’s commitment to facilitating positive change and empowering communities through creativity and self-expression was consolidated by the completion of the second Creative Sparks program in May 2013.
Aware collaborated with the New Hope Foundation (from March – May) to successfully deliver its creative workshops for local Karen refugee children living in the Wyndham region West of Melbourne.
Building on the success of the 2012 program, this year Creative Sparks again provided a safe, stable and engaging environment for newly settled Karen children to be creative, build self-esteem, self-worth and a greater connection with their new community.
Weekly workshops utilised a variety of art therapy techniques, from music and visualisation exercises to meditation and relaxation techniques, to ignite the creativity of project participants whilst creating a relaxing and welcoming atmosphere conducive to artistic expression.
Creative Sparks enabled participating children to explore their own forms of creativity whilst developing a final piece for exhibition titled ‘My Future Me, Self Portrait’. The final self-portrait piece allowed the children to reflect on their pasts while exploring their future dreams, aspirations and possibilities within their new communities.
Aware volunteer co-facilitator Sarah noted the children’s self-portrait work as a highlight during her involvement on the project as it “empowered participants to visualise a positive future. It gave them the space and opportunity to dream”.
Visualising a positive future is of growing importance among Karen children as Karen people continue to flee Burma due to military oppression and discrimination. Burmese and Karen refugees have been successfully settled in Australia through the Australian Government humanitarian settlement program with Melbourne’s western region welcoming a growing Karen community.
The success of Creative Sparks in 2013 has strengthened Aware’s ongoing collaboration with the New Hope Foundation and the longevity of the Creative Sparks program. The dynamic nature of Creative Sparks means that future projects will utilise alternative creative outlets, such as jewellery making, photography and theatre, to continue to foster creativity, confidence and self-expression among refugee children.
Written by Louella Fitzsimmons