Victoria-area youngsters define citizenship through artwork

UVic student using creative project for masters thesis

Grade 2 student Maya Kara displays her artwork

Maya Kara didn’t know the word citizen before having a group discussion about it at her after-school child care program.

She and the other kids recently expressed their ideas about the concept through drawings, now posted on a wall at the Vic West Community Centre.

Citizenship, Maya says, means “helping out, or being a good person.”

The Grade 2 student drew herself helping a friend who was crying after falling on the sidewalk. Another drawing, showing community, shows her walking the dog of someone who is too sick to do it.

The art exercise is part of University of Victoria student Laura Swaine’s masters thesis.

“It was surprising to me how individualistic their idea of community was,” Swaine said. “When I started this project, when I asked about community, they would say things like the school, the community centres … but I wasn’t getting that (in the artwork).”

Instead, most drew pictures of their families, their friends, or their gardens.

“That’s not wrong,” Swaine said. “We assume kids think the same way we do, and they don’t.”

For citizenship, most kids got the concept of rights and responsibilities, she said. “I didn’t tell them those things.”

Swaine’s goal is to get the conversation going about these topics from a young age.

Next, she will host a presentation and discussion about her project at the community centre, 521 Craigflower Rd. It takes place Wednesday, June 13 at 7:30 p.m.

“(Kids) want to be involved and they want to talk about it … but there’s sort of a disconnect there,” Swaine said.

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