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Russell School (Porirua East)

Region: Wellington

Art form: Art Therapy - Visual Arts, Community Art and Craft 

Project name: HeART Space

Creative name: Shanti Brown

Project information:

Outcomes for students and ākonga: Forty-eight students participated in the HeART Space programme, which operated on an ‘open studio’ model, allowing students to have autonomy and choice in their art-making. HeART Space provided a therapeutic space for them to develop self-awareness and explore feelings, express themselves through art-making, experience being in ‘Flow’ through their focus and engagement during sessions, and build connections with each other and demonstrate teamwork. All students had positive experiences when they went to HeART Space. They enjoyed the opportunity to be creative and returned calm and happy.

Outcomes for teachers and kaiako: The creative Shanti held a hands-on session for teachers based on ‘Self-Care’, which used HeART Space activities. This allowed staff to experience what their students were doing at HeART Space. It deepened their awareness of arts therapy and how the arts can be used to enhance well-being. They noticed how arts therapy is about self-expression and the creative process as opposed to producing a product at the end. Staff said that the HeART Space broadened their understanding of well-being.

Outcomes for creative: Designing and facilitating HeART Space allowed the creative to widen her experience and build confidence as an arts therapist. It enabled her to work with children from diverse backgrounds and to try new art activities and therapeutic interventions. She deepened her connections with the school community and shared her experiences with fellow arts therapists. HeART Space provided a platform for her to talk to others about arts therapy as a profession and working within a creative industry.

Outcomes for parents and whānau: Images of the students at HeART Space were posted onto SeeSaw. This online platform allowed whānau to see what their children were doing and to stay connected. Whānau showed a lot of pride for their children by posting encouraging comments on these posts. Students drew upon their culture in their work and were proud to show whānau what they had made. They became more confident in bringing their cultural/family identity into the space by sharing their family karakia with the group or making art that represented their culture.

Project status: Completed

Project photo gallery:


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