One day, in the course of our Outreach Programs, we were touched by kids who made a true description of poverty and its effects. Besides the outward look of misery, they definitely had an inward void that needed to be filled. It was evident that most of them had received no love from their parents, some of who had abandoned them due to the fact that they could not take care of them.
With grief on their faces, a reflection of their sorrow and despair arising from the abject poverty and their disadvantaged state, extracting a smile from any of them was like squeezing blood out of a turnip. This hit us so hard, the true taste of our ministry had just arrived! We definitely knew we had to do something.
After the Nakasongola Mission, which was held over 125 kilometres away from Kampala, during one of our review meetings, we realized that the grief we saw on these kids’ faces was so real and we could no longer keep pretending that things are normal. We needed a remedy, a therapy to help them start a journey to a fruitful life. At this point, KidsArt was birthed.
Today, KidsArt is one of our foundational programs at Iris Mission Africa and because of the backgrounds of some of the Kids we deal with, it is a therapy to most of them since it caters for POSITIVE EMOTION, ENGAGEMENT, ACCOMPLISHMENT, POSITIVE RELATIONSHIPS, and MEANING which are the five psychological elements of well-being.
As young children explore paint by putting it all over their hands, or create collages with torn paper, it's noticeable how involved they get in their activities. Children delight in exploring and creating with art materials. These art experiences help children develop many life skills.
This program does not only prepare the children for creativity but also engages their senses in open-end play, supports the development of their cognitive, social, emotional and multisensory skills. Art is important for children especially during their early development. Research shows that art activities develop brain capacity in early childhood.
Thru KidsArt, we are strategically positioned to use art to introduce the subject of creation which is a great platform for us to witness to them at such an early age. We are in a better position to implement Proverbs 22:6 because we create an atmosphere for them to freely express their emotions without fear as we play with them, laugh with them, and show them the love of the Lord which creates a great bond and an avenue for us to speak directly in their lives. This way, we influence their decision making thought-pattern which we believe instills discipline, work ethics and morals that are foundational in the success of an individual.
As children progress into elementary school and beyond, art continues to provide opportunities for brain development, mastery, self-esteem and creativity.
How we operate
Because of the outreach nature of the program, we have been able to interact with children from all walks of life, some of who are visibly in need of a total overhaul in terms of clothing, play materials and other pressing needs.
Partnering with Mercylink Foundation Africa, we reach out to Children with both KidsArt program and Scriptural Education thru Bible Clubs a partnership aimed at feeding both the Spiritual, Psycho-social and Physical needs of the child where we have seen great numbers of Children as a result of Mercylink Foundation’s Church Planters Network efficiency.
We conduct weekly KidsArt Outreach Programs where special sessions are held to encourage and boost kids’ creativity and self-expression. At the Empowerment Centre, KidsArt programs involve a feeding session on Saturday but have got a great challenge in terms of supplies due to the great number of kids that are involved on a weekly basis.