Jovita Tay, youth program coordinator, had the great opportunity last month to travel to Costa Rica for a training with Common Hope grantor the Strachan Foundation. The seminar brought together 60 participants from six Latin American countries and 36 NGOs to explore how art can promote community development.
Participants spent the first part of the seminar sharing ideas and information about their organizations and how they work with art. Many organizations spoke of their successes using art (painting, drawing, theater) to help get at-risk youth out of the streets, out of gangs, and into more constructive activities.
Participants also attended different workshops in small groups. Jovita’s favorite explored teaching theater in circles as a way to be more inclusive of all students. Says Jovita, “We discussed how theater can help students share their experiences and problems and project those things on the stage. It’s a way for youth to blow off steam and get out their frustrations.” Jovita also attended a course on graffiti that explored how to attract youth with urban art.
Miguel Tello, Executive Director of the Strachan Foundation, says this year’s seminar was a bit different than others in that a number of grantees were presenters this year, those who have experience working in art and community development. He sees a key goal of the trainings to be the sharing of ideas between organizations. “In addition to providing practical skills, we see these seminars as an excellent opportunity for organizations to become familiar with one another’s work, share knowledge and experience, and help support one another.”
With art, we can gain trust
and we can help [youth] resolve
many of their difficult situations.
-Jovita Tay, Youth Program Coordinator
Jovita says the most important take-away for her was that through art we can work with youth to become more resilient. “There are so many conflicts that confront youth—drugs, violence, gangs—that sometimes talking with them isn’t enough to help them get through those situations,” Jovita says. “But with art, we can gain trust and we can help them resolve many of their difficult situations.”
Back in Guatemala, Jovita has a lot of ideas for how to implement what she learned. The youth program already works with art a bit, but she would like to strengthen these efforts to reach more of the population and support them in the difficult situations they face. She plans to focus particularly on projects in painting, theater, and music.
We think it is important to strengthen
the capacities of the organizations we support.
-Miguel Tello, Executive Director, Strachan Foundation
Fortunate for Common Hope, the Strachan Foundation places a high priority on trainings for its grantees. Says Miguel Tello, Executive Director, “We think it is important to strengthen the capacities of the organizations we support by offering these annual seminars.”
For this year’s training, Miguel hopes that organizations learned of some relatively simple and affordable ways to use more art in their work. He says, “I hope grantees were able to see that you don’t need to be an artist or have huge amounts of funding in order to incorporate art in their projects. These artistic activities can enhance existing social development programs and have a tremendous impact in the lives of project participants.”
Many thanks to the Strachan Foundation for this opportunity!