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Active Puppets: Creative Hands

Creative Hands is Active Puppet’s school project .The project aims to build community, address spatial integration and harness diversity; and uses puppetry, visual theatre and storytelling in order to help young people develop leadership skills, confidence and social awareness through creativity.
Following on the great success of its launching project Circle of Love in 2008, and the Creative Minds program of 2009, Puppetry South Africa’s Creative Hands continues to bring creative learning to young global citizens at a school level.

We have been specifically commissioned to catalyse expression for learners in schools where the current curriculum, funding or staffing restraints can’t allow for internal facilitation towards this end. We work with learners at Junior, Senior Primary and, or, High school level with the end goal of inspiring confidence, problem-solving skills, encouraging self-expression and communication and instilling a love of creativity and respect for voices within our communities. Learners, Mentors, Volunteers and other stakeholders are also able to develop vital collaborative skills and enhance their capacity for empathy, artistry and creativity required in this new era of innovation and participation.

Our objectives include: providing learners with soft skills (such as empathy, negotiation, social sensitivity and leadership) and hard skills (arts and crafts, sculpture, construction, puppet manipulation, performance technique, storytelling and character development and physicalisation) whilst improving communication, confidence, employability and the ability to work in a group; providing a platform for creative expression for school learners; and empowering teachers with hard and soft skills so as to improve teacher-student communication.

We are extremely proud of the programme we have just completed in collaboration with the Battswood Art Centre in Grassy Park with a group of special needs learners from previously disadvantaged areas. The 14 week process (which also provided employment, skills development and increased likelihood of future employability for the Active Puppet programme graduates) culminated in a showcase event on the 14 June 2012. We’ve had some excellent feedback from the district zone leaders and education board – there’s even talk of incorporating our project design into the syllabus for foundation phase learners in the areas in 2013. Exciting! We believe that it’s of the utmost importance to help build an advocacy and education initiative that promotes equality through creativity in both mainstream schools and the special needs community.

The second half of the year involves a partnership with the Chaeli Campaign that will result in a performance in October 2012.

This strategic partnership is another excellent opportunity to provide jobs for our Active graduates whilst working with special needs learners: and gives funders an accessible platform to see our programme outputs in action.

Creative Hands has also formed partnerships with the Arts Education sector of Iziko Museums and the Universities of Cape Town and Stellenbosch; and have plans to increase our the frequency of our educator workshops to improve our long-term sustainability and relevance in schools.

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