Artworks For Youth In South Africa

Colleen Napolitano

Posted on November 11 2013

Artworks For Youth In South Africa

Every year 1,000 students in Port Elizabeth, South Africa are staying after school drawing, photographing, making beaded jewelry, sculpting, knitting, and creating personal art most every day of the week. Thanks to the incredible organization, Artworks for Youth students in the poorest neighborhoods of South Africa, particularly adolescent girls who have experienced sexual violence, are now using art as a therapeutic outlet and a means of self-expression. 

Marissa Davis, a WAPPP Cultural Bridge fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School and supporter of SAME SKY, documented her work with the organization over the summer. Through the program Marissa focused on teaching students how to see differently and how to express themselves through various media that in most cases they wouldn't have access to.  

SAME SKY was founded to empower women, particularly women who have experienced sexual violence on a massive scale during the Rwandan Genocide, and we are very excited to share with you the work of Marissa and Artworks for Youth. 

In her words: The first few weeks were dedicated to developing and strengthening Trust, Communication, and Support, the later weeks were then primarily focused on Self-Esteem, Confidence, and working through different types of Abuse that were known to affect those two themes, then devote the remainder of the program activities that nurtured Leadership and Empowerment. When we started working on Self-Esteem, Confidence, and Abuse, we consulted Dove’s Activity Guide on Self-Esteem for young teenagers as a basic framework for organizing the sessions into three categories: My Shell, My Image, and My Feelings. By using and developing activities that fit within these three categories, we hoped the young women would have the opportunity to express how their bodies, emotional attitudes, and psychological perceptions had either individually or collectively affected their self-esteem and confidence. Among other things, we asked them to cut images and words from magazines that reflected how they viewed themselves, write about moments when they had been either encouraged or hurt by another young woman in the group, write poems about what they liked and disliked about their bodies, and recall moments in their lives that deeply angered, saddened them or gave them hope. Some of these activities were particularly emotionally and psychologically difficult for some, but they proved to be necessary catalysts for transformation. 

Keep reading on Marissa's blog: RizD from port EZ

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