Thursday, 20 August 2009

Wales hosts its first cultural programme for children affected by conflict throughout the world

A unique Welsh and Irish partnership has created Wales’ first arts therapeutic initiative designed to help children affected by conflict throughout the world.

The programme, which will run from the St Donats Arts Centre in the Vale of Glamorgan next week, was originally developed by the Ireland-based Arts for Peace Foundation whose patron is the Nobel Peace Laureate, John Hume.

20 children from communities with high levels of social deprivation in Wales and Ireland will be joined by international students who live and study together at the United World College of the Atlantic based at St Donats Castle. These students represent nearly 80 countries around the globe including some of the world’s most conflicted areas. The programme will also bring to Wales some of the leading figures in the field of therapeutic recreation including Professor Matthew Trustman, Head of Drama Therapy at Roehampton University.

The Arts For Peace Foundation works with children from Europe, Ireland and the Middle East and uses the tenets of therapeutic recreation, an allied health profession as the template of its goal-directed life skills programmes.

“Overcoming fear is extremely important,” says the Charity’s Director, Elizabeth Garrahy. “The experience of achievement that the children have through the activities we provide is profound. Our programme enhances the self-esteem, confidence, positive expression, articulation skills and self-presentation of children from some of the most challenging backgrounds. They are then guided to apply their experiences to practical living situations,” she explains.

Janet Smith, General Manager of
St Donats Arts Centre said, “Working with the Arts for Peace Foundation, which focuses on international peace and rehabilitation, is a very natural partnership for us. Not only does Wales has a strong track record of high quality community arts work, our arts centre is based on the campus of the United World College of the Atlantic, a pioneering international movement dedicated to creating international understanding through bringing young people from all over the globe to live and learn together”.

The programme at St Donats will run between from the 24th to the 28th August and will be developed to become an annual event.


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