School holiday programme focuses on Performing Arts

By Elizabeth Ah-Hi ,

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Fiona Collins teaching body movement and character development to young participants at the Performing Arts school holiday programme at Kip Mcgrath, Motootua.

Fiona Collins teaching body movement and character development to young participants at the Performing Arts school holiday programme at Kip Mcgrath, Motootua.

It’s that time of the year again when kids are rejoicing with the start of school holidays. 

Meanwhile their parents’ anxiety levels rise with balancing work and keeping their kids busy during that time.

Kip Mcgrath in Moto’otua have a solution. They have joined forces with performing artists, Fiona Collins –Toalepai and Naea Asolelei by putting together a school holiday programme focused on the performing arts.

Centre Director at Kip Mcgrath, Marj Moore, said that she was happy to provide the space for something that was different and enhanced the children’s learning experience. 

“There’s not really anything offering for kids in the school holidays so I have been keen to offer up the space here for kids who want to do something different during the holiday break,” she said. 

“This performing arts holiday school programme compliments Kip Mcgrath because we also want the centre to be used for other learning opportunities that add other different types of skills to the kids’ education experience. Also we just want to see them having fun and having a diverse learning experience in a safe place where there’s no judgment.”

Incorporating the performing arts into a traditional education programme can only produce well rounded individuals according to Creative programme co-ordinator, Fiona Collins-Toalepai.

She is an educator as well as an artist, “Marj, Asolelei and I have been working together doing lots of things with Kip Mcgrath. Marj has been amazing and it was her idea to bring more of the creative arts in,” said Fiona. 

“So myself and Momoe von Reiche have come in. I know they tutor in Math and English but Marj suggested a holiday programme, not only so the kids have something to do but also to promote the performing arts.”

According to Fiona the best thing about their performing arts programme is seeing the children having fun without them even realizing that they are actually learning, “As you can hear, its great. When they all came in they were quiet and then within five minutes it was like “boom” they opened up. We play energy games which is passing energy around the circle and it’s really an ice breaker.

What it does is it helps them focus. They don’t realize that when they’re participating in these types of activities they are actually warming up their voices. It helps me to see their individual personalities as well as giving me an indication of where their minds are at. 

“A lot of imagination and a lot of learning through fun and a lot of learning through focus because it really makes them listen. And they think they are just having a great time and they are but they are also learning at the same time. They have to appreciate each other when anyone’s talking because everyone has to listen and they do it without even thinking, it’s all driven by them. That’s what I love about this.

Fiona acknowledges that it is tough in Samoa where the arts are not as valued but she remains focused on pushing and promoting the importance of the arts in the educational and character development of children.

“There’s a whole other world of intelligence that is not tapped into. This is me and Asolelei’s dream, its our passion – I came to Samoa on an Art Residency and I just wanted to do my performing arts more and more. It’s just so minimalized here and obviously everywhere its quite hard for people to know that there is a value in this. But once parents and people see what we do they’ll see that their kids are having fun and they don’t even realize they are doing work.” 

The school holiday programme is for children between the ages of 7 and 12 years old and will cover activities in acting, object work, movement, story-telling, music and dance. Creative team Fiona and Asolelei plan to offer this programme again for the next school holidays and will be looking at developing one similar for an after school programme.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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