Building confidence focus of art sessions

Enjoying a creative art therapy session are Ivy Carpenter, (left) 5, and Clara Gillanders, 6....
Enjoying a creative art therapy session are Ivy Carpenter, (left) 5, and Clara Gillanders, 6. PHOTO: SIMON HENDERSON
An arts therapy programme for young people is providing space for free expression.

Arts 4 Us takes place after school on Mondays at Dunedin South Presbyterian Church in South Dunedin.

The free programme is open for local children aged between 5-12 years.

Creative arts therapist Alexa Schefner leads the sessions which usually start with a game to help introduce participants to each other.

Then she encourages the children to do some expressive movement which increases body awareness, co-ordination and balance, for example imagining moving like an animal.

"And then the second part of the session is often related to what we’ve done in the movement."

An art theme such as drawing favourite animals enables children to use their imagination.

"The focus here is not so much on learning any skills, artistic skills, but more on free expression."

The child’s efforts are not judged or corrected, she said.

"Whatever the child chooses to do with with their art, it’s their freedom, and it’s encouraged."

The purpose was to encourage individuality and confidence, Mrs Schefner said.

The programme was a fun, inclusive and welcoming space for children to express themselves through creativity, the programme’s Auckland-based clinical manager Mackenzie Henderson-Wraight said.

Being able to experience art outside the classroom provided a chance for creativity without working towards an educational goal.

The programme is run by registered charity Dance and Arts Therapy New Zealand.

In Dunedin the group also runs Dance 4 Us, a programme for people with intellectual or physical disabilities providing creative and expressive dance and movement.

 - Email for more information about Dance 4 Us and Arts 4 Us.