Underprivileged children got a chance to dabble in art thanks to a week-long camp.

The riot of colours on the wall were matched by the lively music and dance at the auditorium of Sevalaya’s Mahakavi Bharathiyar Higher secondary High School on May 29, valedictory day of the week long art and music camp conducted by the members of Children’s Art Village, Los Angeles, California. Ms Mai Lai founded the village to ‘connect children to themselves and to their creative spirits through art.’

Ms. Lai has been helped in this endeavour by Ms. Michelle- guitar, M. Mai, Ms. Erin Foley and Ms. Jessica – painting and craft work, Mr. Nicholas - yoga, Mr. Mari Annad - painting. Mr. Bob Breech, a Hollywood film Producer with four Golden Globe awards to his credit taught the children photography during the week at Sevalaya, while the others opened the window to a new world of artistic creativity be it music, dance, painting or sculpture. Besides working at the local level, each year they go to a different country to work with underprivileged children. This year they came to Sevalaya in Kasavu village near Thiruninravur. Mr. Surendranath – sculpture, Ms. Lavanya – Indian music and Ms. Vijayalakshmi Easwaran – Bharathanatyam also helped the Americans in this camp.

Mahakavi Bharathiyar Higher secondary High School is a major centre of activity of Sevalaya, established by Mr. Muralidharan, a software professional. He has given up his corporate job to concentrate on managing Sevalaya’s various units such as the old age home, gosala, etc. The school, well equipped with laboratories, library and hostels, offers free education to the destitute children of Sevalaya as well as the children of the surrounding villages. The school has been consistently achieving a high percentage of results in the X and XII Std public examinations.

By the end of the week said Abirami, who has just completed Standard XII, “I want to go for higher studies in art.” Such was the inspiration the participants got from the camp. The week’s training gave a chance to the nearly 200 participants to discover their hidden talents and freedom to express them through Indian and western classical and folk music and dance, painting, sculpture, photography and crafts. “We divided the children in various age groups, gave them these large canvases and asked them to express in painting their idea of a village. Look how beautifully they have created the village atmosphere,” said Ms Mai. s There were colourful collages and masks too on display. Some children, who were generally shy, shed their inhibition and opened up with confidence.

A proud Bob Breech showed on his laptop the photographs taken by his wards. “Just one week and see how well they have learnt to use the camera!” Indeed they had understood the nuances of lighting and composition so well in such a short time that some of the pictures were almost professional.

Happy with the outcome of the camp the Children’s Art Village has decided to continue the programme on a regular basis and the next camp will be in September 2011.

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