Healing through art

Jada Johnson and the Seawinds, Overcome Heights and Lavender Hill childrens artwork.

A first year University of Cape Town (UCT) psychology student is trying to change the lives of children through art.

Since Jada Johnson started Water Lily Arts and Crafts last year, she has felt like the delightful English nanny from the movie Mary Pop-

Looking after 20 children from Seawinds, Lavender Hill and Overcome Heights informal settlements Ms Johnson said their slogan “Healing through art”, resonates with how much she feels arts and crafts can make a difference in their lives.

She said even she feels calm and happy after a class.

Ms Johnson chose the name Lily Arts and Crafts because the lily flower grows beautifully in mud. “I think the children are beautiful no matter where they come from,” she said.

She praises their artwork. “I tell them that their work is good although some of them do not think so. I encourage them to believe in themselves.”

Ms Johnson said as part of her course at UCT, she takes subjects such as social studies, which include examples of children who are faced with social ills. “I am being taught how to handle it and then I pass on my knowledge.”

The support of her parents and grandparents mean a lot to her because they allow her to try new things. “I am truly blessed,” she

Ms Johnson, who completed an art class at the Butterfly Art Project, in Capricorn. sees the children reciprocating her love and she finds this rewarding. “I enjoy it when
they run towards me and give me hugs.

“Making a small difference in a child’s life and seeing a child become a better person,” is all she strives for.

She is amazed at the children’s talent. “I also want them to express how they feel when they come in the morning. I draw three faces on the board: a smiley, a sad and an angry face. They then have to draw which face they identify with that moment. At the end of the class they must draw one again and many times it will be a smiley one. Once a boy drew a sad face, and when asked why, he said he was sad that the class had ended. That brought a smile to my face.”

Ms Johnson’s plan for the future is to find a permanent venue with more space.

“My friend Latoyah Dreyer currently volunteers to help children with drawings and she also teaches them how to play hand-ball, but we need more space.

“We would also like T-shirts with our logo printed on it, but the funds are scarce.”

Another thing on her wish list is food. “I am appealing to anyone who can donate something to put on the table for the children. I see some of them who haven’t eaten yet, when they attend the class. A child cannot function properly on an empty stomach.”

They also need supplies such as acrylic paint and crayons.

For more information, contact Ms Johnson on 074 293 0889.