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Uplifting communities through the power of the arts

Over the next few weeks, Wits Art Museum (WAM) and Lefika La Phodiso will collaborate on Teen_Connect – spreading the importance of the arts in promoting educational, mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.

Every year, as part of WAM’s outreach programmes, they host the Teen_Connect holiday programme where they partner with local NGOs. Due to COVID-19 restrictions this year, the youth could not come to the museum so they are taking the programme to them. Over a five-week period, Teen_Connect will provide creative activities for the children in a special programme aimed at providing creative opportunities, and catering to their emotional and physical wellbeing through art.
    Creative Feel spoke to Rozanne Myburgh, Managing Director of Lefika La Phodiso, to find out a bit more about their work and how the public can support Lefika La Phodiso and their programmes.

A Lefika participant holding the art pack from Wits Art Museum

Creative Feel: Please tell us a bit more about Lefika La Phodiso, what you do, and some of your projects.
Rozanne Myburgh: Lefika is based at the Children’s Memorial Institute in Braamfontein, Gauteng. This is a very interesting building – as it houses almost 30 non-profit organisations specifically focused on work with children. Lefika’s primary objective has been to create accessible mental health services in under-resourced communities. We do this through training community arts practitioners, artists, educators and mental health workers in Community Art Counselling. This methodology is a form of creative analytic group work, bringing together art therapy approaches, trauma work and group practice. This is a specialised skills development programme accredited through the HWSETA (Health and Welfare SETA). Community Art Counsellors are able to facilitate community outreach projects in cities and rural areas, in schools, hospitals, community centres, NGOs and organisations.
     Our community work is based on art therapy principles and our flagship programme is called Open Studio. This is an after-school programme for children living in the inner-city of Johannesburg. We use art, drama and storytelling in a therapeutic way to assist our beneficiaries to process their emotions and experiences. Uhambo literacy programme falls under the umbrella of Open Studio. This is a project where children sign up for a term of specialised focus on literacy skills, art, story-making and enacting. This programme was developed in response to the literacy crisis that we are facing in schools in South Africa. We also have an art skills programme where we focus on our beneficiaries’ artistic abilities and grow their technical skills.
     We have a satellite site in Orlando, Soweto, at Thulasizwe School for Autism where we support educators and parents of learners with special needs.
     Lefika is also involved in ad hoc programmes to support other organisations, as an example, we are currently offering a support group for staff at Artist Proof Studio who are faced with a multitude of challenges during the lockdown. We have also done trauma debriefings in schools like RP Maphanzela Primary School in Thokoza and we provide corporate workshops.

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