Summer Solidays: The Holiday Activites and Food Programme
Over Summer 2021, Art at the Heart ran workshops as part of the Summer Solidays holiday programme, providing free high-quality tuition and healthy lunches for children eligible for free school meals. Each workshop ran from 10-2.30 (including breaks for lunch and stimulating games) and children from other households were able to attend for a small charge of £10 per child. This not only provided respite for parents and carers, but gave children a creative outlet over the summer which was particularly vital after months of home-schooling.
Funders: Arts Council England, Reading Agency, Holiday Activities and Food 2021
Client: Solihull Libraries and the Core
Attendees: Over 120 across 20 workshops, with many children attending multiple times
Workshop topics included sketching, miniature painting, origami and the creation of a huge, spectacular jungle mural with a commitment to raising awareness about endangered wildlife.
Wild World Heroes
Our workshops had a core theme of Wild World Heroes : a collaboration between the World Wildlife Fund and the Reading Agency. This encouraged children to learn more about wildlife, the environment and sustainability in a supportive and inclusive setting. As part of this, children contributed to a huge jungle mural on the gallery walls of the Core, Solihull.
The Jungle Mural
• Created entirely using recycled materials – collages of scraps from previous art classes, wallpaper coverings donated from John Lewis and Tekura
• Featuring the top 10 most endangered animals – gathered by voluntary researchers completing their Duke of Edinburgh Award – children were taught facts about the animals such as their remaining populations, habitats and the need to protect them
• Included lilies and irises created during origami workshops, overseen by our dedicated volunteer Eesha
Impact of the Wild World Workshops
• Hugely positive feedback from children and parents – workshops described as ‘super fun’ and ‘best thing ever’; parents praised the ‘friendly and professional staff’, ‘great facilities’ and ‘excellent results’. Children reported feeling ‘happy and joyful’ as a result, and many attended multiple classes
• Creative thinking encouraged – children were able to ‘use their imagination and go wild’. AATH Directors provided training and support where applicable, for example suggesting an alternative medium like charcoal to aid production and demonstrating techniques
• Developing empathy about environmental issues – AATH Director Kamaljit asked children ‘how does this make you feel?’ regarding endangered animals and encouraged brainstorming of solutions. This was reflected in feedback, with children highlighting their favourite animals and newly learned facts
• Supportive group environment – children worked as teams to create material and developed social skills after time spent in lockdown. Positive feedback from peers and AATH Directors developed confidence and morale
• Time to get active – interactive games gave an opportunity for physical exercise and critical thinking. Free healthy lunches also supported general health
The Mayor's Visit
Mayor of Solihull Ken Meeson and Lady Mayor Annette Meeson were delighted to visit the vibrant mural and meet the children working on it. ‘I had expected colour’, said the Mayor, ‘but this is even more colourful than I was expecting’. The children offered facts about endangered animals and suggested positive steps like planting more trees. This sparked a group discussion about the everyday steps we can take towards better sustainability.
The Mayor was impressed to see the recycling station used by children to access materials. He remarked, ‘you’ve all worked really really hard. I’m very impressed! I hope you carry on doing art as it brings a lot of enjoyment to yourselves, as well as to people around you.’ The children expressed feelings of pride about having their work praised by the Mayor, and this positive reinforcement spurred them on during future art classes.