AS a therapist and workshop facilitator, Clonakilty based Anna Machura, who is originally from Poland, is used to working with both adults and children in a range of areas relating to mindfulness and creativity.
‘I moved to Ireland about 10 years ago and have been teaching as well as translating and also holding workshops with groups like Clonakilty Wellness Committee,’ said Anna.
Her latest project involving three West Cork schools saw her liaise with Katy Burgess from the West Cork Animal Welfare Group for what proved to be a very successful event.
‘The idea for “The Power of Sharing” came to me when working with children as a workshop facilitator and as a therapist. I wanted to create an opportunity for children to express their creativity, while at the same time sharing their stories and experiences with their pets and other animals,’ Anna told The Southern Star.
‘Three West Cork primary schools – Ardfield National School, Knockskeagh National School and Kilmeen National School – took part in this project which included an art competition, a raffle and they also generously collected a range of items for the West Cork Animal Welfare Group.’
Children from junior infant classes up to 6th classes prepared pictures of their pets, and if they didn’t have a pet they took pictures of animals from the West Cork Animal Welfare’s shelter. And it wasn’t just cats and dogs that were featured either, with the pupils drawing anything from rabbits to parrots, goldfish and even a pig.
‘While it was an art competition I also thought it was important to show them the link between their emotions, feelings and behaviour and that we shouldn’t take things for granted. As well as the pictures of their pets, Katy and I listened to all their stories and they were so excited about telling us how some of them adopted their pets and just general stories about their animals.’
It was an extremely difficult task for Anna and Katy to pick the winners of the art competition.
‘The children were really creative and they used different techniques as well as colours and materials and their pictures and paintings really highlighted the bond between the animals and their owners. We had more than 250 pupils taking part in the project and over 60 prizes were given out,’ added Anna.
Katy brought two dogs – Louis and Bluebell – from the West Cork Animal Welfare Group to each school and she also gave an informative talk on rescuing animals, adopting and microchipping them as well as how to look after pets properly.
‘The whole project was a great success in every school and if it wasn’t at the end of the school year I would have loved to have done it in other schools around West Cork. I absolutely love working with people and love helping them. It’s so rewarding to show them a can-do attitude and also encourage them to be creative and develop their own talents.’
The project wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the principals in all three schools and Anna is very grateful to Ms Órla Whelton, Mr Johnnie Walsh and Mr Kenneth McCarthy for making the project such a memorable experience for all involved.
‘As we know sharing is caring and we saw here how huge the Power of Sharing can be.’ I would also like to thanks the sponsors who donated some fantastic prizes too and they include Clonakilty Park Adventure Centre; Park Cinema Clonakilty; Grasshopper Kidswear; Clon Print & Stationery; Coisir Gift Shop; Happy Go Lucky Toy Shop; Michelle Mitton Design Gallery; Clonakilty Bookshop and O’Neill’s Sport Shop.’
This isn’t the first time that Anna has involved schools in her projects and at the end of last year she organised another creative competition called ‘The Power of Emotions’ with pupils from St Joseph’s Girls National School in Clonakilty, Timoleague National School, Lisavaird National School and Kilgarriffe National School.
‘The theme of this project was the power of emotions and the pupils prepared projects, poems and drawings on that theme. I loved taking part in this and both pupils and teachers also enjoyed it,’ said Anna.