During the “Identifying Emotions” workshop, the children were instructed to sketch or create drawings that demonstrate their feelings in the form of art. The children were given instructions to use artistic painting and drawing materials to visually express their emotions on what they are feeling or how they have felt in the past. To create a supportive environment, the volunteer artists were encouragedto ask the children to give an example on when or where they had felt a particular emotion and demonstrate this in an artistic format.
Commenting on the workshop, Mona Bin Kalli, Director of The Cultural Office, said: “We believe that art is an important and universal facet of human expression, and we are delighted with the children’s participation in the “Identifying Emotions” workshop. After the loss of a parent or a loved one, children may fear what others think of them, their thoughts and their feelings; however, the ‘Selah’ Art Program gives the children a safe haven, where it provides them an opportunity to express themselves without the fear of judgement in an artistic manner rather than verbally.”
She added: “We are both inspired and impressed by the results of the children who took part in the “Identifying Emotions” workshop, where they used art as means of communicating their feelings. We were also grateful for the talented Emirati artists who generously gifted art material and volunteered for the program to motivate the childrento develop their artistic and creative thinking skills to express themselves.”
Conducted by Emirati volunteer artists, the art therapy session titled “Identifying Emotions”, was organised by The Cultural Office and facilitated by Awqaf and the Minor Affairs Foundationto provide a safe and positive environment to help facilitate the process of rehabilitating vulnerable children.
The multiple workshops organised by The Cultural Office reflects Her Highness Sheikha Manal’s commitment to benevolent campaigns and humanitarian initiatives to continue developing the UAE’s arts and culture scene involving dedicated Emirati volunteers from the local arts community. Emirati volunteers are encouraged to participate with orphaned children; in order to motivate them to be more socially active and praise their artwork and creativity to instil confidence in them. Their interaction also provides a safe and empathetic environment to draw out latent emotions and help express themselves around others.
The Cultural Office organised a special 3-day training workshop for the Emirati artists to prepare them with necessary teaching skills to better engage and communicate with vulnerable and underprivileged children, as well as increase their practical knowledge of therapeutic art and specialist techniques to provide necessary psychosocial support. The Emirati volunteer artists for the ‘Identifying Emotions’ workshop included Alia Lootah, KhawlaDarwish, Noor Al Suwaidi and HamdanButi Al Shamsi.
The ‘Selah’ Art Programcomprises of the series of workshops ovet the course of a year and specifically designed to benefit disadvantaged orphans and minorsacross all seven Emirates. The following upcoming workshop will provide a specialised art program for children aged between 10 and 16 years of age. The year-long program will conclude in showcasing the children’s art achievements during the workshop in an art exhibition, enhancing their self-confidence and enabling children to connect with their thoughts, emotions and core beliefs and give them the opportunity to grow and develop their creativity.
Her Highness Sheikha Manalbint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum continues to express her deep commitment towards arts programs that enable the development of children’s healing and growth. Therapeutic art which includes drawing, painting, clay modelling, music and drama, help children express their grief, and it also provides an emotional outlet to open up about their thoughts and emotions with others. Many studies have linked art with positive emotional, social, physical and spiritual growth, which improves the ability of disadvantaged children to engage at schools and contribute to their local community.
About the ‘Selah’ Art Program
Founded under the guidance of Her Highness Sheikha Manal bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, President of the UAE Gender Balance Council, President of Dubai Women Establishment, and wife of His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Presidential Affairs, UAE, the ‘Selah’ Art Program was developed in support of ‘The UAE Initiative for Connection with Orphans and Minors’ launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai to provide support for children without families.
Her Highness Sheikha Manal’s undertaking of this special cause is borne from her firm belief that all forms of humanitarian work are of the highest importance as they form the building blocks of a developing and thriving community. Truly visionary in her support of local, regional and international humanitarian causes, Her Highness holds the title of Ambassador for Dubai Cares as she worked on raising awareness among Emirati women about the Dubai Cares initiative, and led a campaign to help under-educated girls “break the barriers of ignorance and darkness of illiteracy” and achieve their right to knowledge. Similarly, in 2013 The Al Manal Initiative was established by Her Highness Sheikha Manal to activate humanitarian work locally and regionally, and to entrench the UAE’s values that enhance the importance of humanitarian work. Every year, the Al Manal initiative offer activities and programmes at local and international levels to serve different issues in society, including education, health, nutrition, child and family, as well as social and awareness programmes.