The Mad about Art foundation defines the essence of the starfish story, which is that every action, no matter how small, can make a difference.
The AIDS pandemic seems like an insurmountable problem, but foundations such as Mad about Art in Knysna, are making a huge difference in the lives of the children involved in the project.
Founded in 2001, Mad about Art is designed to nurture, educate, uplift and remove the stigma faced by those dealing with the disease. Younger children are taught basic lessons on health, which provides them with a deeper understanding of how their actions not only impact their own personal development, but that of the community as well.
This is further explored with the older group by means of a ‘Turning the Tide’ project, which explores recycling, social awareness and skills development. The aim is to provide encouragement to community leaders in order to bring about positive change, by fostering a sense of achievement. The community vegetable growing project is the perfect hands-on experience to teach both good nutrition and valuable entrepreneurial skills – from priming the soil to preparing and cooking the fruits of their labour.
Storytelling through art allows the children to use creativity to explore the often intense psychological issues that they are faced with, which many find difficult to verbalise. Through painting murals they confront stigmas and send a strong message of tolerance and understanding. They are also encouraged to produce their own ‘hero book’ which contains their current challenges and their hopes and dreams for the futures, in a space where they can safely recognise and consciously explore both positive and negative thoughts. Through this they are able to challenge their own behaviours, as well as the attitudes of others, and learn to build a community of hope.
Mad about Art is a place where children are assisted to overcome obstacles and stay off the streets, which is where so many, who are not taught to develop self-esteem and acceptance, end up.
The Community Friendship Tours is a Knysna activity with a difference, which offers visitors a chance to meet locals in the area as well as visiting the Mad about Art centre. All profits from the tour are invested in community development, which means that each visitor is, in a small way, helping to make a big difference. When you check in to your Knysna accommodation, ask where you can sign up for this interesting and beneficial day tour.