Spotlight India: kids imagination runs wild during “Art for Elephants” pilot

AAE India project lead Dhiresh Joshi at the Art for Elephants workshop.Ever imagined a flying elephant with sleek wings, not our dear friend Dumbo or a rock star with headphones?

When working with kids, the sky is not the limit.

Imagination ran wild as wild elephants got wings at the Art for Elephants workshop organized by the International Fund for Animal Welfare -Wildlife Trust of India and conducted by artist Shubhra Chaturvedi at the Ahlcon International School in Delhi.

The workshop was organized with pro-active association of Dr B. C. Sabat, who is in charge of all the schools under Eco Clubs of the Delhi government.

A unique initiative under the Animal Action Education programme, a series of such workshops across India will orient school teachers and students to the wonderful activity packs and pack in an element of fun and creativity.

The elephant theme integrates the AAE programme with the International Elephant Congress (E 50 50) scheduled for November in New Delhi.

The day began with 200 students of Class IX and their teachers filing into an auditorium where I addressed them on conservation and welfare issues of elephants, how they can get involved and how they would be in a position to make the right choices in favour of protecting wildlife and its habitat.

The screening of “Elephants Never Forget” followed after which we moved to the art room where a younger batch of enthusiastic kids waited for the workshop to begin.

During the pilot workshop, Ms. Chaturvedi’s efforts with the students would be emulated in other parts of India with collaboration from other regional artists. The student’s objective was to create elephant figurines from papier mâché using recycled paper and decorate these using various media.

The idea is to gift the best of these student works as mementoes to delegates at E 50 50.

Experienced in working with children, Shubhra’s first instructions on letting their imagination run wild, worked like a magic wand.

What followed was most unexpected  –  we expected colourful elephants, painted, glittered, tinseled, decorated with rags, dried leaves, paper, cotton wool and broken mirrors.

The surprise element was that each elephant turned out to be a character with a story, which prompted the kids to name their creations.

So we had one called “Grumpy” who was apparently left behind by its herd, while we had another sporting dark glasses like a rock star.

Yet another bright green character sported aviators and headphones, while a young boy aspiring to be a pilot actually gave wings made from fallen leaves to his elephant!

I wanted to take some home, especially one called Janardhan (meaning one who helps people) so thoughtfully named by a boy who has yet to see the film “Elephants Never Forget”.

This is one programme the participants will never forget either.

The school will continue the theme with its 600 students spanning classes VI to IX and also use the German language packs with 500 students in their German Lab.

The principal Dr Pandey has promised to integrate the German pack into their school syllabus!

--RG

For more information about the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s Animal Action Education efforts, visit IFAW.org/Education

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Céline Sissler-Bienvenu, Director, France and Francophone Africa
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Grace Ge Gabriel, Regional Director, Asia
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James Isiche, Regional Director, East Africa
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Jason Bell, Program Director, Elephants Regional Director, South Africa
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Peter Pueschel, Director, International Environmental Agreements
Director, International Environmental Agreements
Vivek Menon, Director of IFAW partner, Wildlife Trust of India
Regional Director, South Asia