A LARGE group of children in foster or kinship care were recently treated to an Xpress in Arts event at another successful Softacare day at the Gympie Senior Citizens Centre.
Queensland event organiser Glenda John, of Curra, said watching the change in a child's manner from one of hesitancy and caution to one of confidence and performance in just a few hours had to be seen to be believed.
"But this is what we all witnessed," she said.
"When these children arrive at the beginning of the program, some are shy, some are over-active, some not really wanting to leave their carer "mums and dads", but by the end of the afternoon they are up on stage playing musical instruments, dancing and performing new skills they have learned throughout the day."
Ages of the children ranged from five to 15 years and activities included ukulele playing, hip hop dancing, zumba and card making.
If enthusiasm and laughter was a guide, it was a fun day for all. There were energetic and creative dancers and budding musicians and a great deal of artistic expression went into making cards and calendars, much of which had a Christmas theme.
Softacare is a volunteer run, non-profit organisation, dedicated to giving children in care the opportunity and guidance to express themselves creatively and positively in various forms of the arts such as music, dance, art and crafts.
Founder Wendy John and co-members Marie and Gareth Tame and Sarah Jane Sy travelled from Sydney to stage this latest event and all agreed the smiles on the faces of the children was proof of the benefits of the workshops.
"Children in care often suffer disadvantages in society and our aim is to help them develop their self-expression and thereby their own self-esteem," Wendy said.
"It all helps towards their full development and ability to grow into self-assured adults with positive outlooks on life."
Marie was a foster child in some of her younger years and her empathy with the children enabled her to understand what they are experiencing.
"We want the children to believe in hope for their futures and not be scared or feel cut-off in society.
"Gareth and I believe these workshops not only provide a fun day, but really make a difference about how they feel about themselves," she said.
The children were guided in the programmed events by Robyn Hamilton and Karen Vickers from the ukulele group GUSTO, zumba teacher Cathy Tapper and Pauline Brittain at the card-making table.
An energetic Marie Tame got the kids jumping and dancing around and taught them lively routines.
At the end of the day, the children performed on stage, playing ukuleles and singing and doing a variety of dance routines under the guidance of Marie and Cathy.
There was much foot stamping and clapping from the appreciative audience which included their carers.
The children also had an impressive display of the results of their imaginative card making.