The Women and Youth Art Foundation

The Women and Youth Art Foundation
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The Women and Youth Art Foundation, an art and skills’ acquisition NGO, established in 2004, recently moved to 14 Bank Olemoh Close, near Ike Oluwa Mosque, Akerele. As part of it annual community-based program it is currently running a project in Taking Art Back to public schools in Lagos State.  What better place than to start in Surulere, where the Centre is located!

Project director, Dr Peju Layiwola, an artist and professor at the University of Lagos emphasizes the importance of teaching lifelong skills to youth.  She laments the fact that many public schools do not have art teachers and so students are excluded from learning art, which is a vital part of their development. She recounts, as a young girl, having access to a broad range of art supplies: clay, colour pencils, crayons and pastels in both primary and secondary schools. She experimented a lot and this helped her development as a child. In her over 25 years of teaching art at Unilag, she has witnessed a steady decline in the intake of students. This is directly attributed to the fact that art does not feature as an option in most schools (whether private and public) since the students are hardly told anything about the potentials of art as a career.

In partnership with the Education Board, District IV, sixteen schools were selected for this project. The Women and Youth Art Foundation provided free art materials and tools to teach in the selected schools. Art teachers, renowned artists and volunteers are currently having sessions in the various schools. This project is largely financed by public-spirited individuals who donated cash and kind to the project. Contributions are still welcome as the project, which was initially slated to last three months, will continue till the end of the year. A renowned art supply outlet at Yaba, AB Art World, donated valuable art materials to the Foundation for teaching. We continue to count on public support.

The schools include New Era Senior Secondary School, Ajigbeda Junior Secondary School, Onitolo Senior High School, Ideal Girls Senior High School, Ideal Girls Junior High School, Akintan Senior Secondary School, Akintan Junior Secondary School, Stadium Senior and Junior Secondary schools, and Gbaja Junior.

We are yet to complete the project and have many schools still on our list we haven’t visited yet. We had incredibly fruitful sessions with Ideal Junior and Senior Secondary schools, Onitolo Senior Secondary School, as well as Akintan Junior and Secondary schools. The head teachers and principals of these schools were very receptive and made our work really successful

We had exciting outcomes working with agricultural produce – coconut shells, boes and wood were transformed into exquisite jewellery. We made both two and three-dimensional art forms.  Tie and Dye, for which Surulere is known, also featured prominently. We realized a lot of schools already had this experience. We did metal foil work, pottery, made beads from paper, macramé, thread printing, printing with yam and okro, clay slip casting. We taught culinary skills such as baking, how to make finger foods etc.

Oh, what a great time we are having sharing culture, sharing art and transforming lives. We are hopeful that these children will begin to understand the benefits f the arts.  Apart from providing a means of livelihood, art serves as a major form of therapy. When you make a work of art you have a feeling of well-being.

Recently, at the Eko at 50 celebration, Ideal Junior Girls won the first prize showing off some of the products they learnt from our team.  We are proud to be associated with this feat. The Women and Youth Art Centre is open throughout the week. It has facilities for training in several arts and crafts, which will ensure continuity for participants after the project ends. You are all invited to visit.

Should you want to be a part of this great experience, you can donate to the Women and Youth Art Foundation, UBA account 1012660503.


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