Girls Talk Program and Expressive Arts for Children with LiveWires in Collingwood
The Girls Talk program presents a wonderful opportunity to work with girls from diverse multi-cultural backgrounds. Each week we combine meaningful topics of conversation with creativity. The focus for the program is to provide a safe space for girls in Grades 4-6 within the afterschool care program for children from the Collingwood Public Housing Estate to explore their creativity whilst talking about topics that are pertinent to their age, gender, culture and religious background. Each week I notice topics emerge in our discussions and experiences, which then inspire the content for the following week. This term I discovered that knitting and weaving were popular areas of creative interest for the girls. For the following few weeks we focused on skill building and the creation of round weavings. Each of the girls required one on one attention to learn the initial skills required and after great frustration and many girls wanting to give up, there was a great sense of joy in the room when they began seeing their weavings progress.
Last term Girls Talk fell upon International Women’s day and we began our session with some questions, 'What does it mean to be a girl in your family?' 'What does it mean to be a girl in your culture?' 'What are equal rights?' "Is there a woman in your life that’s inspiring or that you look up to?" One of the girls talked about her Grandma in Sudan and her qualities of courage and generosity. I offered the example of Maya Angelou and spoke about her as a role model, civil rights activist, poet, woman’s rights advocate and the girls were very curious about her, particularly one of the Sudanese girls. Later in the session one of the girls remarked “I wish I could send a capsule to heaven and thank Maya Angelou for fighting for women’s rights”. We also discussed topics such as equal rights, resilience and hopes and dreams for the future, all the while exploring creatively. The girls chose to create self portraits and make hand make jewellery including paper and ceramic beads.
I also Co-ordinate an Expressive Arts program which is open to all the children at the LiveWires program which runs out of the Collingwood Neighbourhood House. We explore sensory based creative play and the focus is often process oriented, encouraging the children to be curious, to play and be creative with mediums such was clay, paint, ink and collage.
Arabic Speaking womens group Lalor
Over several weeks we explored topics such as self care, wellbeing, past present and future, sense of place and trauma sensitive mindfulness practices. The women participants had experienced complex trauma and the arts were a wonderful medium through which to safely express some of their experience.
Having spent several weeks together, we embarked on a group textile making project. Each woman in the group created a panel exploring the topics past present and future. Captured in the piece are the women’s hopes and dreams for the future, stories of isolation, depression and some of the trauma that participants had faced in the Middle East and the challenges of migration to Australia. The piece now hangs at Whittlesea Community Connections in Lalor.
This Community Arts project ran over several weeks in the Public Housing Estate in Collingwood. Many of the adolescent girls who participated, were of African descent and were first generation migrants. We explored topics such as wellbeing, personal values, inspiration, challenges that the girls faced and mapped their hopes and dreams with colour and images. Painting, collage and mandalas were used to explore meaning; we then gave form to the girls experience on a large mural, which hangs in the recreation space at the flats.
Amaroo Neighbourhood House
Working with two groups from local SRS (Supported Residential Services) over several months we focused on cognitive development and skill building using various mediums including mosaic, water-colour, drawing, acrylic painting, collage. The participants chose some of their favourite pieces from our sessions and we put on a group exhibition at the Amaroo neighbourhood house.