In Bulgaria, social work with children deprived of parental care traditionally puts the emphasis on general edication as well as practical skills targeted at realization on the labour market, while cultural education is largely being neglected. This leaves the children with little or no contact with arts and the related human knowledge, which are vital in the forming of a versatile and competitive person, capable of integrating in the modern society.
Bridging this very gap is the main idea behind the "Colour My Summer" Art Camp.
The art camp is held annually since 2008 with the pupils of the "Hristo Raykov" Home For Kids Deprived of Parental Care in Gabrovo, Bulgaria. The initial five issues (2008-2012) were organized by the Norwegian NGO Tangra, managed by Yanitsa Simeonova. From 2013 on the camp is run by the "MEDIUM - laboratory for culture and education" association, with TANGRA's active support.
A team of local and foreign volunteers teaches the children various arts and crafts, thus introducing them to possibilities that are otherwise out of their reach. The kids are given an opportunity to communicate with people from diverse backgrounds, grasp new concepts, enhance their vocabulary and communication skills, realize their creative self-consciousness, and unfold their potential to a much greater extent than typically possible without parental care and support .
They children not only receive a chance to learn about art; they also get to be the artists themselves and to present their creations before a supportive audience.
The education is carried out in the form of a summer camp in beatuful locations with inspiring nature, providing opportunities for many outdoor activites. Because of this the project is not a "school" in the regular sense; it is more of an entertaining activity for the kids, literally "colouring their summer".
The volunteer team remained mostly constant over the years. This allows the team members and the pupils to get to know each other more closely over the years, and creates an informal and relaxed atmosphere of confidence, understanding, and trust, which greatly benefits the pedagogic and creative processes.
Activities include workshops and lessons in painting, applied arts, theatre, music, circus art, folklore. The kids are active participants in the creative processes: they are the actors in plays, the stage designers, the sculptors, the dancers, the musicians, even the radio show hosts.
Their works are shown in exhibitions and live shows, giving the kids the possibility to meet their public and receive feedback They can clearly see the immediate results of their efforts. The children get the first-hand experience to be the artists and creators themselves, and to be appreciated as such.