If you know us, you know that we believe in the power of the arts to unlock potential and develop skills. That is one reason why Kevin Spencer is working on developing a curriculum to address issues of Gender Based Violence through the Arts. Our partners in Uganda have identified this as a high need topic in schools and are advising us on cultural implications. We hope to pilot this in schools in 2018. Stay tuned!

Gender based violence curriculum

With the help of Hanifa Nakiryowa, Johnna Scrabis, Claire Davidson, the Moraine gang and students attending Carlow University, we developed a curriculum designed to help children ages 6 - 16 understand their potential roles in combating gender-based violence in their communities. Because the arts are so central to current practices in Ugandan schools and because our research demonstrates the positive effects of learning through the arts, we designed a curriculum that teaches conflict resolution, the value of staying in schools - especially for girls, responsible sexual practices, sharing responsibilities and the components of healthy, loving relationships. Along with these concepts the curriculum provides children with improvisational activities to increase their comfort in speaking out and sharing their ideas. For more information: Watotos Got Talent!

Improving the lives of vulnerable children

Gardening curriculum are taking on a prominent role in schools in the US because of the sense of accomplishment that students experience, opportunities for discovery learning and building a sense of community.  The schools in Uganda benefit from these as well as creating sustenance and the potential for revenue.  In addition, everyone in the community has a role to play or a job to do in planting a garden.  Regardless of ability, each person contributes.  This scenario has tremendously valuable consequences for the children with disabilities.  They become a valued member of the school and work side-by-side with their peers to learn and practice functional academics and to develop a marketable skill of growing food. 

Because approaches to including children with special needs used in western cultures and particularly the United States would be impossible to implement given a variety of factors including class size, teacher to child ratios, availability of materials and adaptive equipment, lack of specialized preparation regarding disabilities and cultural norms; an innovative approach to teaching children with disabilities was warranted.  Information that was presented regarding specific disability categories seemed of particular interest to the teachers however, time was limited and this information was not able to be shared.  The group determined that visits to schools would help the team from Carlow University in their design of a workshop aimed to address special needs populations in inclusive settings.

Community based curriculum

Children with disabilities were included in all of the activities and participated alongside their typically developing peers – a rare occurrence in Uganda. 

Events like these serve to illustrate to others the benefits of inclusive practices and how a vision for equal participation is a social justice issue which improves the lives of children and youth with disabilities – a central goal of the project.

According to Victoria Namusisi, many volunteers visit Bright Kids and provide support to the orphanage but this was the first time that an event was planned for just the children in the home.  For these vulnerable children, the event not only improved their home with a bright, beautiful mural but it provided an opportunity for them to work together with peers of all abilities and other adults in completing a beautiful art installation.  The day certainly held its challenges attested to by the title of the finished wall ‘From Chaos to Beauty’. 

Kyle designed a large mural at the Bright Kids Children’s Home which was created over three days spanning three large walls of the compound.  Many of the children lacked experiences in participating in structured activities that require cooperation and sharing of materials but benefited from Kyle’s guidance and encouragement for full participation.  All of the children, staff and our entire team participated in completing the painting during the final day which coincided with the Arts Day at Bright Kids. 

ARTS DAY !!  @ Bright Kids Children's Home

Harnessing the power of the ARTS to build confidence, skills and creativity in children.

International acclaimed magician Kevin Spencer of Hocus Focus together with Kyle Holbrook of Moving Lives of Kids designed a fantastic day of artistic engaging activities for the children at Bright Kids Children's Home in Entebbe.  Mike Thompson & Carlow University graduate student Emily Atheson helped to entertain the children throughout the day.  Children watched in awe as what seemed to be impossible, happened in front of their eyes.  As they learned some of the tricks, the children became familiar with ‘secret moves’ while developing their fine motor, cognitive, communication and social skills.   The Arts Day also included working with prayer cloths, painting faces, role playing with finger puppets, and creating balloon animals.

Innovative curriculum for engaging students of all abilities

Actually these children showed us a unique method of fishing.

Teach a child to fish...