Art through the eyes of challenged youth

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Updated 16 November 2012
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Art through the eyes of challenged youth

RIYADH: An art exhibition titled “Hidden Voices: Art Through the Eyes of Challenged Youth” opened in the lobby of the Faisaliah Tower in Riyadh on Saturday.
The Deutsche Bank, through its Middle East Foundation, sponsored the show, in aid of the Intellectual Education Institute for Girls in East Riyadh.
The artwork was created by children and youth with intellectual, physical, communication and behavioral challenges. Many of the artists and their families joined clients and staff of Deutsch Bank at the glamorous opening ceremony.
Jamal Alkishi, chief executive officer of Deutsche Securities Saudi Arabia, said each year the Middle East Foundation funds a number of worthy causes from education and arts to sustainability and volunteering. This year the foundation partnered with the institute to sponsor the two-week art show, which runs to Nov. 23.
Dina Fatani, an art teacher at the institute worked with her grade 10 and 11 students to create the artwork on display.
“The inspiration behind the show was to introduce our students to renowned artists, who have painted bold and memorable pieces of art and allow them to display their artistic ability by re-imagining these pieces in their own style,” Fatani said.
Their interpretation of the work of Picasso, Van Gogh, Kandinsky and Klimt was reflected through each student’s individual and unique perspective.
The artwork will be auctioned at the end of the show and the money raised will benefit the institution.
The bank’s Middle East Foundation donated a Tobii C12 communication device to the institution. The device enables individuals, who are unable to speak or have difficulty speaking, to communicate digitally by eye gaze or by touch.
Fatani thanked the bank’s Middle East Foundation for the donation and “for providing these girls with the opportunity to display their artistic abilities in their own style. In addition, having the Tobii C12 device would improve the life of these girls by enhancing their communication skills and allowing them to be participate more in their community.”
Michael Lerner, head of communications for the Middle East and North Africa, said: “It gives us great pleasure to be part of this wonderful cooperation. With the growing importance of Saudi Arabia for our business in the MENA region, it was one of the Foundation’s core desires to give back to the Saudi Arabian community.”
Founded in 1971, the Intellectual Education Institute in East Riyadh provides education and health services to children and youth with physical, developmental, and behavioral disorders such as autism, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy.


Grandma Stories: Saudi storyteller teaches values and critical thinking by letting children speak up

Updated 22 April 2018
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Grandma Stories: Saudi storyteller teaches values and critical thinking by letting children speak up

DHAHRAN: You can see children forming a gigantic circle and listening carefully when story time starts. Ghadeer Yamani, the founder of Grandma Stories, found her passion for spreading the love of reading among children and delivering values through her storytelling sessions.
The Grandma Stories initiative started six years ago when Yamani returned home after spending years abroad owing to her husband’s work. Yamani has read stories in both Arabic and English for more than 6,000 children of 15 nationalities all over the Kingdom and the Gulf region, including the UAE and Bahrain.
“The idea of Grandma Stories was not an epiphany; it came to me after I saw how reading was a huge part of children’s life abroad. I used to see children reading in libraries, in bus stops, in hospitals — everywhere. I wanted to help spread reading culture in my society.
“I wanted children back home to love reading! And with the support of my husband and family, I think I was able to do this,” Yamani told Arab News.
With the prevalence of national reading competitions, school contests and reading clubs, awareness among families and society members is growing. “The interaction and excitement of families and children are amazing when it comes to story time,” said Yamani.
About the title of her initiative, she said: “When I was a child I used to visit my father’s grandmother in Madinah who had a phenomenal way of telling stories and riddles. I still remember how the entire family would get around her as she started telling her tales, and in an atmosphere filled with love and contentment.
“No one ever wanted her stories to finish and nothing could ever distract us while listening to her. That is exactly how I want children to feel in Grandma Stories story time.”
Storytelling is not only a fun way to ignite imaginations; it also improves children’s verbal and critical thinking abilities. Yamani allows children to criticize the stories by pointing out the strengths and weaknesses of each one. The advancement in such skills is what inspires Yamani and keeps her going.
“The fondest moments throughout my years in storytelling have been when mothers come and tell me how their children used to be shy and reluctant but have started to become fluent and can express themselves well, and that Grandma Stories is the reason for this great progress.”