The Cartwheel Initiative brings the therapeutic and transformative power of the arts to children living in the aftermath of conflict and disaster in order to support them in healing, comprehension, acceptance and transcendence.
Our team of talented artists and educators partner with local organizations to share their artistic expertise and work alongside children who live in communities recently impacted by war, natural and/or man-made disasters. Using various artistic media, children learn a variety of creative forms of expression that give them insight into themselves, their cultures, and their experiences.
We believe that by facilitating the development of an artistic skill set, we will enhance childrens’ abilities to observe the world around them, express their creativity, and achieve a critical sense of well-being as a result of their accomplishments.
- By exposing young people to different forms of artistic expression, they will learn to see
their lives and their experiences with a new perspective. By using art to express themselves, they will begin to heal and embark on a path of self-actualization.
- By connecting volunteer artists with youth, the creative community will make a direct
impact on children’s lives and contribute to their development into vibrant community
- By spreading the awareness of particular psychosocial needs of disadvantaged children to the global community, The Cartwheel Initiative will serve as a bridge to enhancing understanding and creating/stimulating
We believe that a cartwheel conveys ideas of continuity and progress as much as it evokes the fun and free spirited nature of rediscovering the joy of childhood through art.
We recognize that arts education can be especially empowering to children who have experienced traumatic events in their lives. Guided by art therapy principles, we focus on youth aged 9-18 who live in these areas and offer artistic activities with the goal of improving their creative expression. By exposing them to new experiences and offering opportunities to exercise new skills, we give children a voice of their own, empowering them to have opinions, make their own decisions, and encouraging them to be subjective. By hosting community exhibitions to showcase their art, children are recognized for their efforts, improving their self-confidence as well as enhancing their attachment to their community. This positive influence on self-identity, conflict resolution, and collaboration translates into improved life experience.
We incorporated an assessment process with 3 parts to our evaluation. Participants of our Sri Lanka 2011 workshops, both students and teachers, completed a culturally appropriate written evaluation that was designed to gauge mastery of learning objectives and elicit qualitative statements. Students began the workshops without technical artistic skills in each discipline and finished with concrete skills and felt entitled to a means of self-expression.
100% of the students said they enjoyed the workshops and would do it again.
100% of the local teachers agreed that the skills & techniques taught were beneficial to their students.
Quotes translated from music workshop participants:
“The music within us was exposed.”
“We were able to learn music without fear.”
“We forgot all the miseries because of war. I felt happy listening to music.”
Quotes translated from photography workshop participants:
“I didn’t know I had this talent within me.”
“Nothing is impossible. Everything looks easy and hard but when we learn, everything is easy.”