On the 16th of July, I participated in a workshop that Art:Connect conducted with beneficiaries from RDSS (Rare Disorders Society Singapore), an organisation that helps raise awareness about and aid patients with rare disorders.
The most recent workshop (which took place over zoom) started with volunteers reading out a children’s fiction book which was projected on the screen. It had a variety of small activities for the beneficiaries to do including colouring, spotting the difference and tracing dots. One of the things Art:Connect did to accommodate for the beneficiaries was having visual as well as auditory aid, such as flashcards. This was definitely a learning point for me.
After that, we split into breakout rooms, with a few children and volunteers in each, for the second part of the workshop, which was decorating tote bags! All the beneficiaries had been sent materials required for this.
Before my first workshop, I was extremely nervous and I didn’t know if I would be able to maintain conversation & connect. Partially because the beneficiaries were mostly young children and also because they had special needs.
The biggest challenge I faced as a volunteer was to get all of the beneficiaries involved. The other volunteers and I took great care to get all of them participating- We encouraged them to turn on their microphones, assisted them with the activities and guided them on drawing. We asked about their progress and to turn on their cameras to show us what they’ve made. Sometimes the breakout room got quiet as everybody focused on their activity, so we talked to each other to keep up a lively atmosphere.
During the workshop I observed that there are usually 3 types of children:
Those that interact a lot with volunteers, they are eager to answer questions and excited to be involved. Others prefer to do the activities quietly with their parent's help, occasionally showing their work, but not really speaking much. While the third type of children are very quiet and like to do the activities by themselves.
At the end of the workshop, all the beneficiaries had successfully completed all the activities. Seeing their smiling faces as they showed off their decorated tote bags enthusiastically was incredibly rewarding! My two experiences with RDSS workshops have been unique each time, and I’ve learned a lot from both! I look forward to doing more with RDSS and Art:Connect!
- Kashvi Vyas