Posted Dec 19, 2019

Child and youth-led art initiatives

Supporting young people on the move to develop art projects

Our YouCreate methodology promotes self-led arts projects. By giving children the possibility to participate in the creation and the planning of the activities, they improve their wellbeing, resilience and social cohesion. After successful pilot projects in Egypt for child migrants and in Iraq for children and youngsters affected by conflict, we have replicated this in Greece for young refugees and in Ukraine for children who are internally displaced or otherwise affected by the conflict.

In safe spaces and a trusted environment, we guide children and young people through a learning process which gives them the knowledge and skills to develop their own art projects. They can create diverse forms of art by looking at positive aspects of their lives or addressing challenges they encounter. In parallel, Tdh advises them about their rights and about services available for their support. By interacting with peers on topics that affect them, children affected by migration or conflict, as well as children from host communities, improve relations and become more independent and self-confident.

We engage young people to participate.

We aim to build the capacity and confidence of children and young people to do something meaningful. Depending on the context and culture, they choose different forms of expression and different topics to be addressed. Children and young people in Egypt chose music, theatre, graffiti as well as photography and handicrafts to express themselves. They addressed challenges like discrimination, violence, gender equality, children’s rights and safe spaces for art projects. In Iraq the main topics the young people chose to express through art were the access to green spaces, justice and safe sport spaces for girls to do sport. Through art exhibitions, theatre and dance performances, posters and murals, quests and flash mobs, children and youth in Ukraine wish to prevent violence and bullying, ensure places for leisure activities, promote careful attitude to nature, and revive cultural traditions.

Art can help break down stereotypes.

Children and young people from the host community as well as the ones who are affected by conflict or migration get together to create something new in a team. Through teamwork, the young participants learn to work together and see each other as partners rather than focusing on their differences. Art is a tool to overcome national barriers but also to break gender norms. Through theatre and drama that address social justice issues, for example, confidence and healing can be promoted.

With performances or events in schools and the community, adolescents get the chance to promulgate social issues that affect them. This raises general awareness and gets people to reflect on child rights. Children also learn how to attract support from local authorities, businesses, and adult allies.

We use the method of participatory action research.

Participatory action research is a process where the researchers and the young people involved together try to understand the world around them, and then plan and implement activities that promote positive social change. A Syrian girl youth leader who was initially very shy says: “This methodology has affected me positively; it helped me to get out of my isolation and deal with war and its consequences in a different way. Now I voice my concerns. I feel that my personality has developed and I have leadership skills.”

Feeling empowered, young people in migration or affected by conflict become a thriving part of society and will be agents of change for their own future.


Picture: Participants of the YouCreate programme in Greece. ©Tdh Hellas

It helped me to get out of my isolation and deal with war and its consequences in a different way. Now I voice my concerns. I feel that my personality has developed and I have leadership skills.

Stay informed