Innovators of the Week: Promoting Independence, Inclusion and Innovation through Unified Art

The following post was written by Nyasha Derera and Wadzanai Tsvangirai, Youth Leaders from Zimbabwe. Nyasha and Wadzanai implemented a Unified Art Fair to break the barrier of discrimination, rejection and stigmatization through art and interaction. Check out how they #innovateforinclusion!

For us, as Unified Partners, the Art Fair was an exciting project that showed us that youth in Zimbabwe are eager to learn and share ideas. The project attracted 100 students, with and without intellectual disabilities, from several schools across Harare. Students with an interest in art were able to come out and discover a talent that they themselves did not know that they possessed. The Unified Art Fair not only gave the participants the chance to learn their talent but also equipped them with life skills — thus promoting independence, inclusion and innovation.

The day kicked off with a session of Zumba to remind participants that fitness and healthy living should be a priority. After Zumba, the participants delved into various types of art experiences to learn and engage with each other. For example, participants interested in painting were tasked to paint or draw something that reflected the power of inclusion. This was accomplished in teams of four containing participants with and without an intellectual disability. A professional artist judged the drawings and the top ten were named.

The coach teaching participants how to make key holders and jewelry with beads

Similarly, those interested in beading where put into Unified teams of eight people. In each round, the coach demonstrated how to make key holders and jewelry to each team. At the end, awards were given to the top bead makers. The sports team going to the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 were also given a chance to make jewelry and key holders as gifts to present to their friends at World Games. This art experience allowed everyone, including the participants’ family members, to participate and make something that could be appreciated. Lastly, there was a Unified traditional dance challenge between two local schools in Harare. This provided the crowd with added entertainment and challenged other athletes to learn and not limit themselves.

Participants drawing and painting pictures of inclusion as one part of the Unified Art Fair

To further spread inclusion in Zimbabwe, we had the opportunity to be interviewed by Zimbabwe Television. By spreading the message of inclusion through art we break the barrier of discrimination, rejection, thus creating inclusive communities in Zimbabwe.

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