Once children have found the right color that symbolizes their inner needs and problems,
you can see a positive change in their facial expression.
|▲“You can use whatever you want”, “You can draw whatever you want”. Children enjoy mixing up paints and drawing to their hearts’ content in guaranteed freedom and peace.|
One child tries to find his way out of the dinosaur maze, while another child keeps drawing tens of pictures, and yet another child keeps mixing different paints on a palette- all of them freely expressing themselves in art. This is a scene from the “Oekaki Care” (“Painting Care” – art therapy for children) held at Kawatani Nursery School in Nishigou-mura. “This is all an important part of their play. Mixing all kinds of colors until you can’t make out the original colors is also a process of revival. I saw the same thing happen with the children who were burdened with tremendous amount of stress after the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake 17 years ago. Once children have found the right color that symbolizes their inner needs and problems, their faces look like they have gone through deep cleansing. It’s not the dark murky color they create that matters. It’s the fact that they could get it out of their system”, says Ms. Masako Fujii (Art Therapist, Special Support Education teacher).
|▲The dinosaur maze was created by a 6th grade boy after the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. Since then, it has captured many children’s hearts as the “coloring cure” at Shikisai Gakuen. As seen here, using any color they like and freely coloring in the complex maze is exactly what children need to do to replenish their hearts.|
|▲Ms. Fujii listens attentively to children|
Ms. Fujii lives in Kobe City. She founded “Shikisai Gakuen” (“Colors Paradise”) after providing mental care to young victims of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake in 1995. Since then, she has supported children’s mental health with the help of volunteers through art, which helps children free their minds and foster their capacities. After the Great East Japan Earthquake, Ms. Fujii went to Yonezawa Civic Gymnasium and provided “Painting Care”, as a relaxing time for children. “That was where I met the children who had evacuated from Fukushima”. Since then, Ms. Fujii has been visiting the nursery periodically. “All I am doing is helping the self-recovery effort of these children. It is the children who are wonderful. I can clearly see that they are trying to overcome their problems and grow”. Ms. Fujii believes that the recovery effort is a long-term battle. She is now contemplating a similar program for adults who are also going through enormous hardships.
(interviewed on January 18, 2012.)