Art as a Tool for Social Change

Art as a Tool for Social Change

Children create art to change and advance social dialogue 

A program for children and families at risk at Yad Rachel after-school care centers

Yad Rachel is the leading NPO for operating and running therapeutic education programs for children and families at risk, enabling them cope more successfully with the challenges of life.  The Yad Rachel after-school care centers are designed to help children aged 6-10 with serious behavioral problems, who live in families in severe socioeconomic distress.  The clubs provide a safe environment that enables the child and family to grow at peace with themselves, healthy in mind and body, with the ability to choose, become independent, and contribute to society.

The Children Create Art as a Tool to Promote Social Change program was established and is operated with the extensive and fruitful cooperation of the Banki family and the generous support of the Schusterman Foundation-Israel.

The language of art is non-verbal and is universal, across cultural, class, societies, and socioeconomic barriers. It allows diverse means of expression.  Israel’s complex reality is reflected, in part, by the dwindling number of direct channels of communication, a weakening sense of belonging, exclusion, feelings of alienation, interpersonal aggression, and (violent) regional escalation. All these raise the threshold of anxiety and anger of most of us, all the more among children and families at risk.  We believe that this tool will help generate change among our families to allow a life full of satisfaction, safety, values, tolerance, a life that is worthy, secure, and just.

Our primary mission:

Children will learn to accept themselves and their difficulties, and from there – learn to grow, express their feelings without threat, fear, or shame, listen and see, and accept the other.

About 100 children and their parents from Jerusalem and Bat Yam take part in the program.

In the program, children have participated in activities at the Israel Museum and Bat Yam Museum, and have worked with dogs as part of an animal therapy program.  The children have also enjoyed parent-children activities, meeting the artist Hanoch Piven and the author Mirik Snir.  The parents enjoyed the show Song of Songs by the New Israeli Orchestra.

The program allowed the expansion of language work and world-knowledge work by all the participants by adding literacy hours to all the clubs.  The program also made it possible to add therapy and language enrichment hours for children and parents over the year, with an emphasis on the complexity of living in a heterogeneous society and the current violent discourse in Israeli society and on the streets.

The program focused on personal and social development and the development of language as a primary communications tool, in the belief that these skills will give the children better dialogue tools.

Waiting for your turn: this skill involves the ability to participate in a game through cooperation.  It is the ability to wait in line at a game, the ability to wait for your turn to speak, and the ability to contribute positively to group discussions.

Body language: body language includes facial expression, gestures, body placement and closeness, and the ability to identify these signals in others.

Awareness of others: awareness of others involves identifying the similarities and differences between people, including their individualism, needs, and intentions.

Self-confidence and independence: self-confidence and independence include a child’s ability to move around and undertake simple tasks with minimum adult assistance.

Feelings and emotions: this skill focuses on the concepts of basic emotions and language people use to express them.

Understanding: the ability to derive meaning from spoken language.  It includes vocabulary, instructions, questions, explanations, stories, and conversations.

Listening and attention: the ability to concentrate and pay attention during spoken language activities while retaining sufficient concentration.

 Speech: a child’s ability to express his needs and ideas coherently, while paying attention to the development of communication skills with other children.