To start off, I wanted to run art classes at the rehabilitation shelter, because I believe that having a creative outlet is very important to recovery from trauma, illness, or any other ailment. It doesn’t matter how could of an artist you are. What matters is that you make something that makes you happy and that you are proud of. It is something that takes you away from bad thoughts and – at least for me – allows you to peacefully look deeper into yourself.

On Wednesday, I got to run my first art class. It was so so awesome. I got to work with two thirds of the shelter on Wednesday: the youngest group – the Black Stars – and the middle group – the Ghana-USA. I worked with the oldest group on Thursday: Senya International. I was a bit apprehensive about working with the oldest kids, as I felt like they will be the least receptive to new, maybe slightly weird activities. I shouldn’t have been too worried. All the kids really had fun and let their own creativity shine.

I loved how excited the kids got during the art class I ran. I got them to make masks out of paper plates, and told them to put their personalities on the plates. While I did one to give an example, I told them that they could do anything they wanted, that there were no rules on what they had to create on the mask.

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While some of the kids did copy parts of my mask, most took off and really put a lot of creativity into the masks. Their faces lit up as they slowly tried more and more things. One kid specifically became super excited about stickers he could put on his mask. Some drew their families, many drew the Ghanaian flag, and a lot just drew pretty undistinguishable objects.

I am concerned about some of the kids’ desire to please me with what they do rather than make things just for themselves. I want to change this in some way and show them that, concerning the outcome of their art, it is not important if I like what that have made or not. It is their opinion on their art that matters most. For now though they are having fun and that is what matters. Hopefully, as time goes on, they will gain confidence in their own abilities and not look to me for approval.

The best part was when the kids got to put on their masks. I don’t think I had seen them that excited until that point. They were all laughing and chattering, and were over all much louder than normal. I could tell they were happy with what they had made. On the weekend, I was even able to give them their masks to play with. While they seemed uncertain of what to do with them at first, most of the kids came up with innovative games, mimes, and dances. I was really happy that I helped them make something that was just theirs that they could play with for as long as they wanted.

For kids that have spent a majority of their lives working for others and getting severely beaten if they made a mistake, it was so great to see them get to be proud and excited over something they did just for themselves.