The Sunderland firm which put a smile on young African faces
Fantastic art projects are reaching the children of Africa thanks to a Sunderland business.
Youngsters in Ghana are painting, making models and exploring chances to play - and it’s thanks to a partnership formed by award winning children’s art firm ARTventurers and the social enterprise MADventurer.
ARTventurers founder Fiona Simpson first met John Lawler, the founder of MADventurer and the UK charity MAD Foundation at the Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards night.
“John and I first started chatting at the awards ceremony in November about the similarity in our company names – ARTventurers and MADventurer,” said Fiona.
“But as soon as I heard about really important work and projects that MADventurer carries out and John suggested that ARTventurers could help in some way, I jumped at the chance to be involved.
“I was shocked to find out that in some areas of Ghana, a classroom full of children have to share just one pen. Obviously their access to art and play materials is very limited indeed but art has so many benefits for children – it improves confidence and self esteem, helps develop language and social skills, improves motor skills and coordination and lots more.”
ARTventurers runs colourful art classes for babies, toddlers and children across the UK.
MADventurer sends groups of volunteers out to countries such as Ghana, Kenya and Fiji to work on projects such as improving school buildings, teaching and building toilets.
A MADventurer group of volunteers travelled out to Ghana in the last week of November and took with them a large caseful of ARTventurers supplies and art materials.
They also took plans and activities to deliver to children in schools and community groups in Ghana.
“Having ARTventurers involved in one of our projects is brilliant,” said John, who founded MADventurer and the MAD Foundation charity 20 years ago after visiting the village of Shia in Ghana as a student and being invited to become the Development Chief of the village.
“It’s meant that we’ve been able to deliver a really fun and engaging programme of creative activities to local children who would never normally have these opportunities and it’s amazing to see the smiles on their faces and the artwork they’ve created”
The next MADventurer project starts in Fiji after Christmas and the plan will be to deliver more ARTventurers activities and resources to the children in local Fijian villages.
Fiona added: “We’re really excited to work further with MADventurer and the MAD foundation in the future.
“And it’s amazing to think that one chance conversation at the Echo Portfolio Awards ceremony has led to children in a completely different continent benefiting in this way”.