Happy #GivingTuesday-Testimonial from Volunteer Marie Gray

Dear Friend,

You subscribed to email updates from Designing Artists Academy by YouMeWe NPO, a project on GlobalGiving. Here's the unedited update from the field: 

Testimonial from Volunteer
By Marie Gray - Youth Impact Coordinator at Hands On Tokyo

Happy Holidays to our supporters of Designing Artists Academy. We hope that this message finds you with your loved ones and enjoying delicious food. My name is Marie Gray, and I am a volunteer representing the Youth Impact team at Hands On Tokyo. We are a bilingual NPO that organizes volunteer projects for young adults with special needs individuals, senior citizens, and at risk children. We are very much looking forward to our collaboration with the Designing Artists Academy this year.

 I am fortunate to manage a monthly English and art session with a children`s home partner in Tokyo. Today I wanted to tell you about the positive impact art has had on the children I work with, and why I decided to link up with the Designing Artists Academy.

 For the past 2 years, I have been fortunate to watch my children`s evolution, and develop teaching methods to match their interests. What I have learned is that traditional English teaching methods are not engaging enough. Often times, kids are learning English in schools, and after a long week of studying, they want to try something completely new.

 In contrast, what has proven successful are teaching programs that incorporate creative opportunities. I usually teach a theme du jour. We spend 45 minutes learning the new material, and then students spend the reminder of the lesson creating material with their assigned volunteer. At the end of each 2 hour session, the children present their creation to their classmates and volunteers.

 This structure is effective for several reasons. The first reason is that students get to put their learning into the action. The second reason is that they can receive one-on-one attention from a volunteer with whom they can practice their English. The third, and most important, is that children are empowered to challenge themselves and practice self-expression. This is particularly important to cultivate for this demographic.

 Eventually all of the children`s homes` residents will be forced to leave the homes when they complete high school. They will have to find ways to be self-sustainable without oversight from staff who made major life choices for them their entire lives.

 Therefore it is of outmost importance that they feel confident enough to be their own advocate. It is better to begin this process while they are young and have mentors and caregivers who can nurture these skills.

 Art is a gentle way to foster these skills in children. For me, I have watched them develop these strategies in my class, and seen how much more confident they have become. Now we have a class full of students proactively engaging with myself and volunteers and taking pride in who they are.

 Designing Artists Academy reflects this same model, but with even more creative outlets. Dancing. Yoga. Painting. Drawing. You name it, and Designing Artists Academy is probably offering it. I believe this program has the potential to inspire and impact more children throughout Japan. With 9 successful years under their belt, Designing Artists Academy is constantly finding innovative ways to teach art. It is an incredible privilege to be a part of this program.

We hope that you will also find the goals of the Designing Artists Academy to be inspiring too. We also hope that you will consider an investment in this program, particularly on November 27th. GlobalGiving will match all donations made between Eastern Standard Time November 27 12am and 11:59pm, Japan Standard Time November 27 between 2pm and November 28 1:59pm, and London time (GMT) between November 27 5am and November 28 4:59am. 

 Any amount will help us ensure that as many vulnerable children will be to join this camp at zero cost to them. Thank you for consideration, and we look forward to keeping you posted throughout the year.

 Happy Holidays!