A drab and lifeless school building has never inspired kids to learn – and for kids from disadvantaged backgrounds, broken windows and out-of-order bathrooms in their school only reinforce a sense of hopelessness. This is why creative Megan King and Ricky-Lee Gordon started Colour Ikamva, a WDC2014 official project that aims to improve and transform disadvantaged schools.
Colour and energy fuels creativity and enthusiasm and makes a space inviting and welcoming, and Colour Ikamva works with students and teachers to change their schools with paint, murals and colour, while also fixing broken windows, taps and ceilings, and unblocking drains.
‘Most of our public schools resemble prisons or factories, and the system in general hasn’t really evolved much with society,’ Megan says. ‘The way people learn and interpret the world has changed our schools need to reflect that or at the very least, offer a safe and uplifting space where students want to show up.’
Using design principles, colour and co-created artwork made from simple materials, Colour Ikamva hopes to put creativity and love back into neglected school environments, Megan says. The clean, colourful and energised environment becomes a beacon of pride and ownership for the participants, and a reminder of their own power to collaborate and create something beautiful. Megan says this also extends to teachers and community members, who are presented with an entirely different image of the learning environment – one filled with energy, enthusiasm, happiness and possibility. The actual work required to transform the buildings also provides temporary employment to locals.
Each project is adapted to the context of the students but always designed with the assumption that creativity is an essential tool for self-knowledge and personal development.
‘Creativity has the power to manifest positive qualities within us such as perseverance, self-discipline, self-awareness, compassion and kindness. These are qualities essential to the growth of a young person faced with the realities of a difficult environment and upbringing. These qualities are the roadmap to the person we want to be,’ Megan says. Ricky concludes: ‘We are simply holding up a mirror and asking them to look inside and discover their creative selves and if explored further they can find a more true self.’