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Throwing it back this World Youth Skills Day

written by BAZ-ART
on the 15, Jul, 2021


Our youth masked up after completing one of our educational projects in Hout Bay recently

For a second year running we’ll be reminiscing about the good old days keeping our art teacher, Mark Jenneker’s hands (and heart) full with curious minds and eager smiles. World Youth Skills Day observed on the 15th July, will once again be celebrated in a different way due to the current pandemic.

Art teacher, Mark Jenneker

However, this year given the grim news making headlines, we thought to add some cheer to the room by remembering our projects dedicated to improving youth art skills. Youth art education has always been a project close to our hearts given the various positive benefits namely, academic, cognitive, personal, social and many more.

Over the last year, despite the challenging period, we’ve hosted numerous art classes across our three main bases thanks to the help of Mark and his fiancé, Caroline. After 2pm every Tuesday, you’d find the ‘squad’ gathered at the Salt River Community Garden and between a paintbrush in the air and pink painted nose, you’ll see Mark at the centre of it all, while Caroline takes roll call.

Left: Salt River community getting involved with preparation for our IPAF walls Right: Caroline guiding one of Salt River’s little artists, as he paints gifts to be delivered to nurses, thanking them for their hard work during the pandemic

Given the country’s current lockdown restrictions we’ve needed to push pause on our usual art classes however, in the name of #ThrowbackThursday this World Youth Day, we thought it’ll do good reflecting on some of our amazing youth art skills projects we’ve done within communities and highlight the benefits once more.

Art activities can foster a sense of community. They help create a place of safety and security where youth can learn from one another as they engage with themselves and their environment.

While art remains an overlooked skill, it’s proven much-needed since it can activate and enhance other skills as diverse as reading proficiency, verbal memory, language and leadership. Art gives children a chance to use their imagination, which is especially helpful in situations where resources are limited.

Here are some more ways in which art upskills our youth:

  • helps children become more flexible,
  • think abstractly – qualities that assist in problem solving and reasoning,
  • catalyses personal emotional development by teaching the youth to challenge assumptions,
  • bridges the gap across cultural differences by teaching disciplines, acceptance and engagement and  
  • improves interaction in a social environment such as tolerance and pride, evening out social disparities.

Shifting focus back to our throwback, the Phillipi Youth Graduation which took place last year September honoured the youth for completing our SA Artist Programme. The youth improved their skills through art therapy classes while also uplifting our local community and keeping children occupied in the classroom instead of on the streets.   

Phillipi Graduation class – the youth standing with their certificates after completing the SA Artist Programme

Demonstrating the impressive artworks, our team organized the ceremony exclusively honouring each student who attended and submitted their work. To express our pride and thanks, we awarded the students their certificates of achievement for their hard work. The parents and community beamed with pride for their little ones. Parents attended in groups, cheering and taking photos while their children clothed in colourful traditional attire, took centre-stage to collect their awards.

Mark, who hosted the art classes every day for seven weeks, took great pleasure in the occasion and thanked the children and parents for their dedication to the SA Artists Programme.

True to form, as Mark awarded each student he shared fond memories of each child – naughty, difficult, sweet, soft and their progress, always reminding them of their progress. This special touch sent chuckles and tugged at the heartstrings of attendees, making the graduation feel even more special! The exhibition featured artworks by 40 students ranging in age from 5 to 17-years old.

Little artist and dedicated student (aged 10), Avuyile Qezu from Philippi said she really enjoyed the art classes with Mr Jeneker.

“Art classes taught me that I should practice my drawing more regularly. I realised that I’m good at it and need to keep going.”

Avuyile Qezu, student

“Now that the project is complete, we still hope to get more funding so that we can do a one-year curriculum. The plan is to provide our youth with life skills through art education and hopefully continue to keep Mark and Caroline’s hearts and hands full”, says Alexandre Tilmans, Baz-Art co-founder.

This was the first exhibition of Baz-Art’s grant-in-aid programme, supported by the City of Cape Town and the Department of Arts and Culture.

Mark has been using art to teach skills such as discipline, acceptance, engagement, the value of effort and life skills to youth off the streets. The venue for the programme, Philippi Village, became a suitable fit for this project by honouring the students in a building intended to provide a space where people come to work to find inspiration. The clever integration of the debris from the demolished factory into the walls of the new building offers a tangible example of the idea that new and lovely things can be created in broken and abandoned places.

One of the many proud mothers, Zimkitha Sindaphi explained the youth skills programme taught her child to tap into her creativity. “My child always takes the pens and paper lying around the house now and has started drawing since they started attending the art classes.”

“My child always takes the pens and paper lying around the house now and has started drawing since they started attending the art classes.”

Zimkitha Sindaphi, parent

Our Arts & Artists project boasts magnificent artworks from young artists living and working in South Africa and is definitely a project to keep on your radar. The project focusses on career development, further enhancing an already robust skillset.

Keep an eye out on our website, for updates on the SA Artist Programme, by visiting:

One of our artists, hosting a creative workshop with youth from Hout Bay

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