Last week we began our first ever Australian project and we are so excited. Aware will, in conjunction with New Hope Foundation, be facilitating art workshops with children from refugee backgrounds in Melbourne’s outer west. The aim is to increase self-confidence through storytelling and building awareness about social issues facing recently arrived communities in Melbourne.
We are lucky to have studying art therapist Kristy Heffernan on board to run the workshops, with the help of Aware’s Director Stacey and volunteer Louella. Employing the theories of art therapy in a safe, fun and relaxed space is set to be an amazing experience!
Let’s meet Kristy!
What you are studying?
I am currently studying Transpersonal Art Therapy at Phoenix Institute. Art therapy is a therapeutic process in which people can engage with themselves, their lives, and their experiences without the need for constant dialogue like mainstream psychotherapy. Although talking can be a large part of art therapy, the creative process is in itself, the critical part of the healing experience for the participant. By expressing through creativity a person can access and express ‘unspoken’ ideas, memories and feelings in a gentle and safe way, with an experienced therapist present.
Why you wanted to volunteer with Aware?
When I was contacted by Aware I jumped at the opportunity to work with them. As an art therapist I was really drawn to the humanist, compassionate approach of aware within their projects. I also realized the great potential of using art with children from refugee backgrounds, as it allows for interaction and expression that transcends language barriers.
A little bit about the project?
I want to allow a space for the kids to feel free to express themselves and play. We will be using numerous mediums to explore their own experiences as a child in their community. We will concentrate on identity, creating opportunities for the children to tell their stories through their art. The children will be encouraged to show their interests, dreams and personalities through paint, pencil, pastel, collage, stickers and clay.
What you expect the outcomes to be for the participants?
Fun! I want the children to have a lot of fun whilst getting the opportunity to explore a number of different mediums in art. I also hope to nurture feelings of pride and confidence in their own creativity and for them to feel safe in being themselves.