Art projects with children and young people

 
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Young boy in Fukushima working on his portrait for my Strong Children project

My approach to working with children and young people is based on the principle that they are strongest and most resilient when they are listened to, and respected; and encouraged to think creatively and be active citizens. Developing their own ideas about their situation, noticing their own emotions, talking and making links with other people and the wider world also encourages them to take a proactive part in life. In my view children need an appropriate setting that gives them permission and safety to express a whole range of emotions and thoughts. That might include fear, sadness, grief, frustration and anger,  as well as happiness and the more socially acceptable cute and joyful aspects of childhood, more often insisted upon by adults.

I also want to create a channel for them to reach the world and get feedback, and to affect the policies that shape and limit their living conditions, health and happiness. This completes a positive circle they can feel proud of and empowered by. Of course children are practically speaking almost completely powerless, but it is important they have an alternative to the passive reception of information and instructions.

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Drawing with C-C in a centre for street children, Mexico City

Finally, no record of important historical events, or thinking about policy choices or ethics for that matter, can be complete without including children – even if it is just seeing the marks they make, and looking into their eyes as they gaze from a portrait.

Geoff Read