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Speaking through colours.

A picture is worth a thousand words and the children from Sneha Centre spoke volumes with their colourful creations, writes Mai Al Khatib-Camille.Sneha is a recreational centre in Manama run by the Indian Ladies Association (ILA) to help children with special needs acquire skills in functional literacy, self-help as well as in arts and crafts.Around 20 youngsters recently featured their vibrant art work in an exhibition at the Bahrain Art Society in Budaiya entitled Together We Make a Colourful World.Bhavna Shah, a Sneha co-ordinator and member of ILA, said: "The exhibition showcased the children's' love of colour. They enjoy working with different art mediums. Their paintings were loved by all and sold out in no time."The children's talent and effort collected BD800 and the Friends of the British School of Bahrain also donated BD1,000. The exhibition was inaugurated by the Indian ambassador's wife, Mala Mohan Kumar.The paintings, produced under the guidance of its 25 dedicated volunteers and three qualified teachers, were part of the centre's Assisted Art Programme that help children better express themselves.Bhavna added: "We always believe in encouraging the arts for children with special needs at our centre. "While art is important for all children, it's crucial for kids with special needs. Painting gives valuable means of self-expression to these children and art teaches life lessons through a therapeutic method."Artistic activities directly exercise and strengthen the cognitive and physical skills that generally challenge special needs children, such as oral, tactile, visual, sensory and motor skills."With art, there is no right or wrong answer. It's simply created, shared and appreciated. Embracing children's work is an essential part of art education for children with special needs. It gives children a sense of pride and accomplishment, builds a 'can-do' attitude and enhances feelings of self-worth, especially when kids see other people admiring their work. "It helps them become who they are and gives them the confidence to continue to explore!"The non-profit organisation opened its heart to special needs children in December 1987 with four members and since then has flourished. Admission is open to children of all nationalities and it is run free-of- charge, although Sneha is funded solely through donations and fundraising programmes.Children from Sneha have participated in many sports events organised by the Bahrain Disabled Sports Federation, Special Olympics Bahrain and the Cherry Tree Trot charity. Since 2000, the children have been involved in an assisted art project in which the best creations throughout the year are selected to make the popular Sneha greetings cards. More than 250,000 cards have been sold during the course of the last 10 years. The children have also made diyas (candle holders) for Diwali.

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Publication:Gulf Weekly
Date:Jul 16, 2014
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