Bringing the wonders of Outside, Inside at Mitmaundek
Sawatdee Krup (Hello in Thai),
Pom Cheu Sean (My Name is Sean) - This is about all that i have been able to soak up whilst here in Thailand but iam trying everyday to learn new and fascinating words in order to have a full conversation, but i dont think it will be coming to me anytime soon.....
Anyway, My name is Sean Neilson and im volunteering here at Cultural Canvas Thailand in the gorgeous surroundings of Chiang Mai. I arrived here last week after a very long Journey from Glasgow, Scotland. My time here has been nothing short of amazing so far, every moment has been filled with laughter and loads of fun and the rich tapestry of colors and smells have relighted my senses and given me a instant love for everything that is Thai.
This week i got down to some volunteering work with the very kind hearted and rather sweet Cee (House Mother & Translator) and Mandy (Art Director) at a little home called Mitmaundek. One of the reasons for my trip to Thailand and to work with Cultural Canvas was mainly because of their inspirational work with children with a variety of special needs ans also their involvement in art projects dealing with children who suffer from Cerebral Palsy.
My younger brother Ryan who was a massive part of my life and for whom i cared for, for 12 years alongside my mother, suffered from cerebral palsy too and could not walk, talk, sit up or do many of the things that many abled bodied people take for granted. Ryan became very ill whilst in hospital and then came home after spending almost 3 months in Intensive Care (ITU) in Glasgow. I put Ryan to bed one Night and he fell asleep and never woke up again, this was the day that i lost my best friend and i thought nothing would ever be the same again......
This brings me to today and im thousands of miles away from Home and Volunteering with many marginilised groups here in Chiang Mai. Iam helping to try and make a difference to their lifes and creating pieces of art that not only are beautiful, but also create a space in which many of these people can use art to open up and explore their emotions.
One such group is the gorgeous children from Mitmaundek, these children suffer from many forms of Special Needs from Cerebal Palsy, Autism, ADHD to brain damage from surgery and each child is extremly varied in their needs but never in their abilities. Each child has the opportunity to do what every other child gets a chance to do.....be children. They get the chance to get messy, to use their feet, use their hands, paint, draw, use their senses and create pieces of art that symbolise who they really are.
This week i decided to give the children a sense of the outdoors and bring the outdoors to them, i brought along leaves, pebbles and flowers from the Cultural Canvas Office Garden for the children to use their senses. The children got an opportunity to smell, touch with their hands, arms, legs and feet to texture and feeling of leaves and pebbles and flowers and also got the opportunity to smell the flowers from the garden too. They loved every minute of using their senses and it was the first time all of the children had been engaged at the same time.
The children also got the opportunity to make their own leaf prints by using the leaves that they had sensed and then placing them under different colored paper and using crayons to imprint their leaf onto paper, the children loved this process and loved to see what new picture they would create with each of the different textured leaves.
This art workshop was an amazing success and i was very emotional during the process because of the love and attention that the children gave to me who was a complete stranger, they accepted and greeted me and made me feel like i was home. The workshop was inspirational, emotional, creative but most importantly fun.