Hearing Colour at Hope Home

The mood of this week's visit with the children of Hope Home was a little different than our previous visits. The day before the workshop, as I was putting the finishing touches on my lesson plan and preparing materials for our activities, ARI got the news that Laap, one of the children with cerebral palsy, had passed away in the early morning. Laap had been ailing of late, and our workshops were mostly designed to make him as comfortable as possible. During our last few visits, he was usually sleeping, though he was responsive to light therapy and music whenever he was awake, and the staff tried to take comfort in the peace and joy that art brought him.

Hope Home was obviously mourning Laap and feel his loss very keenly, so we tried to adjust the workshop to help the children find ways to express the emotions they were grappling with. For the past few months, ARI has been working with the children of Hope Home on healthy emotional development, identity creation, and self-expression through art. With this workshop, we built on the preceding weeks' work with sound and colour, focusing on helping the children associate colour and sound with emotion and teaching them to use colour and sound to express feelings. 

When we arrived at Hope Home, the staff were cutting and pasting photos of the children onto a large poster to make a family collage. This artistic activity helps the staff remember Laap's life, honour all the children of Hope Home, and begin to process, mourn, and heal. We helped them with this therapeutic project for awhile, sitting quietly together sorting through photos.

Our major activities for the day included making a rainbow water xylophone and rainbow rice shakers. We've found that music is something that really works for all of the children, regardless of their specific disability. Music thus has a tremendous capacity to bring them all together, and in the wake of Laap's passing, it seemed particularly important for the kids to be able to express themselves and bond through art. The goal was for the more able-bodied children, Phrao and Little Guy, to make the instruments while those with cerebral palsy, Yindee and Dontri, watched and played with existing instruments. Then, they would all come together to make music and play. 

There are benefits and disadvantages to creating workshops that are highly specific to each child, and the primary disadvantage is that sometimes the kids end up separated by disability and not collaborating or creating art together. While it is obviously important and hugely beneficial to design activities that specifically work with each child's needs and goals, the past few workshops have seen a pretty noticeable division between the more and less mobile children. Thus, the primary goal of this workshop was for all of the children to be able to observe and participate, on some level, in the creation of the instruments and the subsequent music making. The benefit the children derive from both receiving tailored, individual attention and then making and enjoying music together is clearly discernible, and we hoped to bring this shared joy to a difficult day. 

To do this, we brought all of the children outside. We set up Yindee and Dontri with existing instruments like the tambourine, the keyboard, and the colour-coded boomwhackers and Phrao and Little Guy with the materials to make new instruments.

The first activity, the rainbow water xylophone, was very simple. Basically, the activity is designed to help the kids understand how different amounts of liquid in the cup create different sounds and to associate different colours with those different sounds. We filled six glasses with different amounts of water and added food colouring to create a rainbow, red to blue! We then used different tools, from spoons to chopsticks, to create different tones and sounds with the instrument. Phrao really enjoyed playing with the xylophone and practicing her colours (blue is her favourite). She also dropped different coloured beads into the water and then picked them out with chopsticks. She is such a creative and clever kid.

We then started creating our rainbow rice shakers. I'd prepared coloured rice by dying it with food colouring in many bright, fun colours, and Phrao and Little Guy absolutely loved mixing and playing with it. They were fascinated by the colour and the texture of the rice. In fact, Little Guy enjoyed throwing the rice around more than putting it in a bottle, but it was really cute to see them have so much fun playing. It was a simple but engaging activity that keep the kids busy for the majority of the workshop. It was also cool to see them get independently creative with it, learning how to use the funnels and actually making the shakers themselves.

We did ultimately complete the four shakers, which we then distributed to each child. Yindee was a little sick, but she really did seem to enjoy playing the keyboard and the tambourine, and the shaker made her smile. Dontri was in an excellent mood and also liked the noise and the feeling of the shaker; I think being outside and surrounded by the other children and lots of music was both stimulating and soothing for him. 

It was really lovely to be able to play with a variety of instruments, particularly the coloured boomwhackers we've previously been working with, and to see the kids really build on ARI's previous work with colour and sound. They are so bright and kind, and they really seem to enjoy making music and playing together.

Overall, the kids really seemed to enjoy the chance to learn more about colour and sound, and Little Guy didn't want to let go of his shaker to eat his lunch! The workshop was productive, instructive, and most importantly, fun, and I hope the children got a lot out of the morning.

Aisling Henihan


Dia Dhuit everyone my name is Jemma Hart

Whats the craic😉 I'm 23 years of age and I am from Dublin Ireland. As you  all know I have just recently finished my level 8 in social studies (BTW thank you all for the congratulations means a lot 😊). I have been studying social studies for the past 6 years and have a strong passion to work in this line of work preferably abroad as this experience has already inspired me to do so. I have experience in different social care sectors ie  working with young people, adults with disability, homeless sector, addiction and detention centres, so I was really interested in observing how these services are carried out here in Thailand and compare to back home.

With my college degree and passion to work with people I applied to EIL. EIL is an Irish organisation that provides intercultural learning  opportunities through volunteering abroad, studying abroad,travel awards and other cultural immersion activities. The mission of EIL is to provide intercultural learning opportunities which enrich lives, promote understanding of other cultures and challenge individuals to be more globally aware. I was fortunate enough to win the Thailand travel award to which I am here for 8 weeks. I am loving every minute of it so far and can't wait to share my experience with my community when (if) I go home 😛.

I love anything to do with sports (as you all may already know C.O.Y.B.I.G 😆) in my spare time I like to train in my local boxing club and football club. I like to keep as active as I can which I have not done much of here 😕 however i will soon ☺.

At the minute I'm still trying to let it sink in that I was giving this amazing opportunity to volunteer in this wonderful city so if you see me day dreaming that's more than likely what I'm doing, just say the word Tea and I shall quickly snap out of it 😆.

Well I shall say chow for now me owl flowers, yous are all an amazing bunch 😀✌

-Jemma ❤

Hi! I'm Meredith

Hey everyone! My name is Meredith Flood and I am a 20 year old from Lansing, Michigan. I am currently attending Michigan State University where I am majoring in journalism. I’m an Art Relief International (ARI) intern from the Education Abroad Network Program and I will be here until the beginning of August. 

To graduate with a journalism degree from Michigan State, it is required to have at least completed one internship. I chose to apply to this specific arts program because I wanted to do an internship abroad as well as help out others around me. Working with disabled kids, juvenile convicts, and many other various groups of people will be a good way for me to get out of my comfort zone and try something a bit new. 

Through this internship, I believe it will be a good way to get my foot in the door with arts and creative thinking. For my career, I want to pursue photos and videos and make commercials for large companies such as The Olympics, RedBull, XGames and so forth. This internship is quite a bit different from what I want to do with my future; however, I think it is good to start from the bottom up. Throughout this internship, I will gain skills such as communication, creative thinking, and working with others. This will be a good starting point for me and I am excited to see what the future holds.

Sensory exploration with foam painting

This workshop was conducted at Hope Home. Hope Home is a foster-care home for special needs children who are referred from the local government orphanage in Chinag Mai. The kids here are so loving and friendly, you will just want to take them home straight away.

The workshop theme this weeks was all about senses! As early childhood educators have said "young children learn with all their senses". The activity involved using shaving foam and food coloring as a way for the kids to explore more senses. Sensory exploration is importent for the kids as it helps improve their fine motor skills.

During this activity Phrao and Little Guy were experimental with the foam painting, you could tell they were out of their comfort zone a little, which is good because we should encourage them to explore and experiment with their senses.  Designing the rice balloons also encourage Phrao to communicate and use her language skills by saying the colors in English.

Yindee and Dontri both experimented with the foam painting but failed to respond well to the soft texture. They were happy with taking in all the sounds of the rice balloons and listening to the rhythm of the beats we were making with the instruments.

Overall the workshop was successful and enable the kids to experiment and step outside of their comfort zone which is vital for child development.

All the staff and the kids really enjoyed the day and left with smiles as always!



Hello, I'm Kat, what's up?!

Hello everyone! My name is Katrina McDougal and I'm a 21 year old from Washington, DC. I'm currently attending the University of Kansas (KU) where I'm a double major in Global and International Studies along with Chinese. I'm an Art Relief International (ARI) intern from The Education Abroad Network Program (TEAN) and I'll be here til August 5th (quite a long time)!

I'm half Thai and half Scottish American, but unfortunately I only speak a little Thai (I know, bummer)! My mom grew up in Nonthaburi province in poverty to she never received a proper education, so she's completely illiterate both Thai and English. Growing up, I always had to help her understand the world around her and prevent her from being taken advantage of for barely knowing English. When I saw the internship opportunity in TEAN to work for ARI, I couldn't let it go. I applied because I thought I'd be a good candidate and I'd even get the chance to uncover more about my culture.

I've always wanted to gain more exposure to Thai culture and learn a lot more about language. I'm also very interested in helping marginalized societies find a way to express themselves, feel included, and just focus on having fun. I love making art and I like knowing that I'll be able to make a positive difference in someone's life, even if it's small. That's why ARI is perfect for me, I'm committing a societal good through artistic expression and continuing my personal goal for gaining more knowledge of Thai language and culture!


Rain Sticks for the Rainy Season

The Healing Family Foundation is all about providing the space for people with disabilities to learn new skills, to have fun and to develop new friendships. Their days combine weaving on a Japanese style loom with spending time socializing and sharing their time together. This week for our workshop we decided to create Rain sticks .

The main objectives involved construction, creative design, sound and dancing.  We made the sticks from bamboo, alfoil, rice and dried beans.  It was then decorated with paper, ribbon, twine, feathers, beads and glitter.

Although it was a challeging workshop

they all loved the interaction with each other and the volunteers.  Something that this group of beautiful people love is using the rain sticks whilst dancing. I love being with this group. They are always so happy to see you and just enjoy you being there and interacting with them. 


Ice Painting Colors At Hope Home

Little Guy and I

My name is Sreyneang Lang and I'm from Cambodia. In this post I would like to share with you the fun we had at a workshop that we had at Hope Home. As always we wanted to use our past experience to build a workshop around every child’s needs and make progress, to include an art based activity that is therapeutic where learning is fun.

This week, we separated into two groups. We played a color sorting activity for the more able bodied artists to get them warmed up and excited about colours. Next we used a very kid friendly paint created using ice as a tool for transferring color. The second group enjoyed playing and listening to music with those who have cerebral palsy, using the melodic instruments and percussion to create fun and relaxing rhythms and sounds. 

To make the ice paint we added food colouring to water and put it into ice cube trays, adding short popsicle  sticks that would act as a stick to hold while painting. The participants painted using ice to engage in a sensory experience while we asked them about the colours their used. We then separated our paintings based on color, placing them on the giant color wheel. Then we let the children explore the mixing of colours as the ice melted and let the food colouring run across the page.

* Little Guy is the little cute boy at Hope Home, he is a little shy but also good listener.  He is happy, funny and very curious. He enjoys exploring while learning during our workshops too. He catches on quickly when you show him something he will start to follow you. 

* Phrao is a cute and smart little girl. I love her smiling when it shows that she is really happy with what she playing with.
She really enjoyed exploring with the ice paint and stayed focused, continuing to paint until the end of our visit, although she wasn't particularly impressed by the camera on that day. 


Sock puppet fun with Starfish Home

This week I conducted a workshop at Starfish Home, which is a home for street children and children from desperate family situations. There was a total of 40 loving and friendly children who took part in the workshop. The project aims of Starfish home are skill development,  to have fun,  to use their creativity and to develop English skills. Therefore I felt that designing their own personalized sock puppet would meet the aims for the children.

 Firstly, I prepared materials needed for the children to glue onto their sock. The age range is 4-6 so preparing the materials was essential as the children are not capable of holding a scissors. The materials included eyes, fabric, wire cleaners, foam paper, and markers. It was up to the individual child to design their puppet in their own way.

The children were so enthusiastic and focused when designing their puppet. Many of them had very creative ideas of what they wanted their puppet to look like.
They were communicating to the volunteers in English, asking for glue and different colors, developing their language skills.

After they finished designing they puppets they kept themselves entertained by playing with their puppet and their friends. Their were constant smiles on their faces and a sense of pride because they used creativity skills to produce their personalized toy to play with.

- Sally


Continuing to Crochet the Trendy Bag design with the single mothers at WildFlower Home

image from google

My name is Srey Neang Lang, from Cambodia. 
WildFlower Home is a social group of single mothers living together in Chiang Mai while getting the support they need to grow and learn in a positive environment. They really love and enjoy to do workshops with us about recycled things so much. 

Single mother during the workshop

For this workshop I'm going to continue teaching about crochet from last weekend with participants, we will finish the simple trendy bag from last week and I will teach them how to create freely on that trendy bag. I am also teaching participants how to crochet the simple trendy crochet bag by using plastic bags step by step. This time for the workshop I am teaching the participants to use yarn and for next time I will teach them to recycle plastic bags or old clothes and use it to crochet. We use many kinds of things that can be recycled and we can use to crochet too. So we are creating this cute trendy little bag to keep your daily make-up, pencils, or valuables contained. I hope that the participants will feel happy, have loads of fun and feel enjoyment again and again.

The single mothers show a strengthened attention and their focus on crocheting creatively is really great. They're learning about how to crochet the simple trendy crochet bag with yarn, a good skill to share happiness with each other and they are able to come up with new and great ideas for crocheting every time they want to do this activity. When they are having a lot of fun that makes me happy too!
Single Mother During The Workshop
Single Mother During The Workshop

For this workshop I first explained how to crochet the simple design step by step, show them examples of crocheting designs and telling the participants that I will be teaching them slowly so I encouraged them to just feel relax. This time we crocheted the small simple trendy crochet bag. They can could choose any colors they like for their bag. I then showed  them the example I had created of a bag that I had decorated with beads.  Next I showed them how to use plastic bags to crochet by cutting the plastic bags into strips and spinning it into a stretchy yarn. Now that we have been crocheting for a while I think they have enough skills to create their own styles and designs. 

a design with yarn flowers 

a design created by using beads

The ARI volunteers felt good during the workshop, finding crocheting to be very relaxing and therapeutic. They were happy to learn a new skill too! They were feeling like they didn't want to stop but just keep doing it again and again!!!

ARI Volunteer Sarah
ARI Volunteer Anni

Crayon Pointillism at Urban Light

This past week at Urban Light, we encouraged the boys to explore the creative possibilities of pointillism and pyromania with a lesson in melting crayons to make art. The idea behind the workshop stemmed from the post-Impressionistic style known as "Pointillism," perhaps most famously used in George Seurat's "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte." Doesn't sound familiar? You've probably seen it -- check out the picture below.

Inspired by the exploration of color and perspective used in Pointillism works, we had the boys heat crayons over candles and use the softened wax to make their own pointillism or abstract works. The results were stunning. We had a large turnout, and all the boys used the melting wax in novel, individual ways. Some lit the actual crayons on fire, using the continuous stream of wax to create large fields of color, while others fastidiously dropped dots of colored wax, creating elaborate and delicate works of art.

There is, apparently, latent pyromania within all of us -- staff and boys alike were completely absorbed in the process of creating these colorful, striking works of art.

-Annie :-) 


Hand Casts at Urban Light

Hand Cast With Art
My name is Srey Neang Lang, from Cambodia. Urban Light is support centre for a social group of boys and men who are working in the red light district of Chiang Mai and the age group is around 14-24 years old.  Sarah, who is from Ireland, and I did our workshop there on making Hand Casts.

Participant With ARI Volunteer During The Workshop
 The boys would make a cast of their hand, let it to dry and then paint and decorate it as they like. They could also make items like jewelry to decorate their hand or make objects like car keys to place in their hand- symbolizing what they want in the future, to have in their grasp, etc. We wanted to focus the concept on being familiar with plaster casting using their bodies and to express themselves creatively. We also really wanted them to think about their future and their wishes and aims.

We began by explaining what plaster casting is, how it’s used in medicine, for broken bones, and in art for live sculpture.We then showed them the hand cast that Sarah and I had created and painted together and talked about the design that we chose. 

The process: 

Cover hands in Vaseline then wrap a thick band of newspaper ¾ way down your (or your friend's) forearm, this will be the support for the cast. Then wrap the newspaper on the inside of the forearm and palm, this allows the cast to be removed once it is dry. Then cut bandages into strips and dip them into water.

Place the bandages on the hand until it's fully covered and let it dry. Remove the cast when it's nearly dried by cutting it open. As this cast is not of the full hand, stuff your cast with newspaper to form the shape of  the palm, fingers and rest of the hand. Cover with plaster bandages to close it and continue until it is fully formed.

Participants During  Workshop
ARI Volunteers And Participants During The Workshop

It was very fun, the participants were engaged and present, and seemed to like the workshop idea. When we showed them our example hand cast and did a demonstration in front of them, they understood very easily how to do plaster bandage casting. They could showcase their emotions and thoughts through their design, while enjoying a creative release. We were happy to encourage thoughts of future goals for the boys and to have a lot of fun in this hand cast workshop. We really enjoyed being able to share such positive feelings with others who really need it. 


Hi from Donna

My name is Donna and I'm from Perth, Australia.  Im currently studying at Ikon Instutite of Australia and Im coming to the end of the course so it was time to organise my placement.  The first I had heard about Art Relief International and Cultural Canvas Thailand was from a friend, so decided to investigate.  I really loved what the program had to offer as there are a variety of groups that they visit  ranging from orphanages, schools, refuges, children and adults with disabilities and aged care to name a few.  Transpersonal Art therapy has such a large range of people that you can potentially work with that it can be a bit overwhelming to decide the group of people you might like to work with, so I thought that this could be a great opportunity to add clarity to my pathway.  The other draw card was that it was overseas so you get to see and learn about the different cultures and languages.

I've been here now for 2 weeks and time is flying by.  My stay here is only for three weeks which is a very short stay, as I'm now just working it all out and feeling really comfortable.  The language difference was quite difficult to start off with but as we did a few Thai lessons and learnt about the culture I'm now just feeling settled in, more time would of been great,  but the experience has been amazing.  The people that we work with, the other volunteers from all over the world and the staff at Art Relief International and Culture Canvas Thailand are all so lovely and very embracing.

The workshops have been a great opportunity for me to be expressive but also to facilitate others in doing theirs, so you are learning so many new things.  Im looking forward to the coming workshops but also with some sadness that its all coming to an end way to soon.



Plastic Fish Mobile-Thai Freedom House

As the first class of a new term at Thai Freedom House, we began our recycling project with a splash! Our focus is to use recycled materials in creative and inventive ways, and encourage Eco-friendliness to the students at Thai Freedom House.

Our workshop: Creating fish out of recycled plastic bottles.

We began with a brief talk about the environment and the importance of recycling, and a quick demonstration. The students immediately set to work, first flattening their bottles (with ear crunching noise), then cutting out the tails of their fish. It was at this point that they showcased their individual creativity, each fish, and student, different from the last.
After some time of gluing parts together, and a lot of sticky fingers, it was time to bring out the paint, and so the fishes came to life. There were spotted fishes, stripped fishes, rainbow and neon fishes, and everything else under the sun, or rather, underwater.

We, staff included, were so focused on our work that we did not have time to finish the project. We left the fish to dry, and the following week assembled the fish mobile. When put altogether the mobile looks fantastic. Its vibrant, creative, and just cool.