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Everybody is Good at SomethingCreative Habits for Life

In Summer 2019, Creative Health Hub artist Paul Bokslag led a series of four creative workshops for young children with asthma at the Dooradoyle Library and Hunt Museum in Limerick. Through arts, creativity, and games participants were able to exercise their five Creative Habits of Mind, working to become more inquisitive, persistent, imaginative, collaborative, and disciplined in a fun, welcoming, and safe environment.

The workshops all began with a couple of fun games to get the children into a creative headspace, as well as teach them about the five Creative Habits of Mind in an enjoyable and interactive way. Each game helped them to develop and strengthen at least one of the habits, and made the abstract concepts more understandable and achievable. By the end of the workshops, the words inquisitive, persistent, imaginative, collaborative, and disciplined became key parts of the participants’ vocabulary when discussing creativity. One boy in the group demonstrated his understanding of persistence when he remarked, “Everybody is good at something,” in regards to his brother, who is a wheelchair user and is continuously persisting through life, proving his strengths.

Turtle silhouette created by one of the participants.

In the first session, everyone created a paper silhouette of their favourite animal. The children’s personalities ranged from shy to excited, but everyone worked together well, with the most enthusiastic participant being an encouraging source of support to the others. The boy’s brother even joined in on the fun, demonstrating his persistent nature throughout the workshop. At the end of the session, both mothers commented on how positive the experience was for everyone involved.

Two Dimensional Landscape used as a stop motion animation background.

The second workshop picked up where the first left off. After an exciting round of games to get the creative juices flowing, the children got to work on this week’s project, making two dimensional habitats for their animal silhouettes from the previous session. One of the participants brought his grandmother along to the workshop, and helped her every step of the way, as she challenged herself to create the best landscape she could. The other participant also put a great deal of work into her fantastic colourful underwater scene for her turtle.

Creating the Stop Motion Animation.

In the third session, one boy was an especially big fan of the ball game everyone played at the beginning, because he and his family are big sports fans, so he enjoyed using something he’s quite familiar with, a ball, in a new creative way. One of the other participants had become very interested in the paper cutting activities from the previous sessions, and had used what he learned in the workshops to fuel his creativity at home, bringing in to the workshop lots of paper artworks that he had created at home. His mother said their house was now filled with them. This workshop featured a collaborative stop motion animation project, using the silhouettes, landscapes, and characters the children had created in the first two sessions, as well as a camera and tripod. At the end of the workshop, the participants got started on creating a paper-mache mask of their favourite animal. Each child demonstrated their individual strengths in this workshop, and used them to help the group. One participant was great at creative problem solving, while another was incredibly imaginative and was very talented when it came to animating movement, another was great at teamwork, helping the group to work well together on their animation.

Participant creating their animal mask.

For the last workshop, the group moved from the Dooradoyle Library to the sunny education corridor of the Hunt Museum. The children completed their masks from the previous session, decorating them using acrylic markers. Some of the children discovered that drawing with acrylic markers was quite different to painting with brushes, but once they saw the beautiful outcome, they were happy to persevere. The workshop concluded with a celebration of the children’s efforts and achievements throughout the workshops. I was clear that each child had grown and developed their creative habits, but they had also all gained a great deal of confidence and a sense of pride in their work. One boy even asked, “Can we please do one more week?”

Participants modeling their finished masks.

Helium Arts’ Creative Health Hubs are supported by the Arts Council and the Social Innovation Fund Ireland. The Limerick Hub is taking place in partnership with University Hospital Limerick, and Limerick City and County Council and Limerick Culture and Arts Department.