Art therapy – A bridge to social development

In recent years art therapy has become a significant tool when it comes to working with young people – many educational centers, schools and youth facilities have centered their efforts to build on creating a more stress-free environment where children and young people can express themselves through music and art.

Between the 3rd and 7th of June, Courage Foundation hosted participants from the Educational Inspectorate in Guyshemane, Turkey under the Erasmus + KA121 project ”Integrating art into social and emotional development”. During the meeting, the participants not only explored Plovdiv as a cultural and art-focused city, but also got acqainted to the ways different institutions apply art therapy into working with the young generation.

The first stop of our explorers’ visit was the Maltepe Center in the village of Manole, Plovdiv region. The Maltepe Center is an important cultural and archeological site with rich history and at the same time it has become a center where children come every day to attend practical and theoretical workshops for pottery, become archeologists for a certain time to look for objects and construct broken findings, such as vases. What makes the Maltepe Center engaging is the individual approach that there is towards the age of the students. Throughout the session, the participants from Turkey managed to learn from this practice by observing a clay modeling classs

The second destination of a good art therapy practice was the Plovdiv Center for Special educational support of children and students with mental and phycal impairments. It is one of the most innovative centers of such kind in the country and it has invested into art therapy by leading activities with musical instruments, rice painting and creating art with objects, such as sand grains and stones. The participants observed the process of social work with children with special educational needs and had the chance to discuss with the staff about the differences between Bulgaria and Turkey in the field. One of the most touching moments for all when the participants witnessed children of different ages, both verbal and non-verbal working on a huge frog painting.

We also visited the Ethnographic museum where there are workshops for Felting organised every week. The Ethnographic museum is one of the highlights of Plovdiv, representing cultural heritage from the period of Uprising.

One of the most engaging sessions, however, was lead in the Ana May School along with students and forum theatre experts which come to work with them every week. The participants not only observed the session, but also took part in it during the warm up activities

It was such an exciting experience both for Courage Foundation and the representatives from Turkey, and we can only hope for more similar experiences!

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