News groups around the world are encouraging children shocked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to turn to art as an outlet for their worries.
Students in class with teacher Verena Lippa in Hitzendorf, Austria, answered the call of Kleine Kinderzeitung news for children and designed more than 200 doves and collected about 400 euros by offering some of their work for donations after a service at a local Catholic church. The money went to Caritas, an Austrian provider of social services known for its humanitarian aid work. Children all over the country produced more than 1000 doves in answering the call of Kleine Kinderzeitung. (Artwork courtesy of Kleine Kinderzeitung/Mittelschule Hitzendorf)
Students aged 7 and 8 at the École Angèle Vannier in St. Malo, France, included some Ukrainian words in the art they submitted to France’s Journal des Enfants (JDE) as part of the #KidsDrawPeace4Ukraine project. “Listening to children and giving them a voice is an important aspect of the children’s press,” JDE content director Caroline Gaertner said. (Artwork courtesy of JDE/École Adèle Vannier)
News-O-Matic, based in the United States, covers daily news in Spanish and English and receives many pictures each month through its special app. “We’ve been asking our readers for the last week or two to submit artwork concerning Ukraine,” said News-O-Matic editor Russell Kahn. “Some incredible images. Hundreds and hundreds so far. This one I saw this morning kinda stopped me in my tracks.” You can view more artwork published by News-O-Matic here. (Artwork courtesy of News-O-Matic/Saki)
“So proud of how our children have engaged with the challenging topic of the current conflict in Ukraine with their messages of hope,” headteacher David Sheriff of Lowton St. Mary’s Primary School in Wigan, Great Britain, wrote of the art by 7-year-olds there in a tweet. “This Year Three art work reflects our children’s compassion and support for the children & families affected.” (Artwork courtesy of Lowton St. Mary’s Primary School/Sherriff)
Children could download a heart-shaped border from the March 5 edition of Great Britain’s “The Week Junior” to create a peace poster. “Readers in both the USA and UK have been quick to ask what they can do to help the children of Ukraine,” said UK editor Anna Bassi. “Both editions featured examples of activities that will allow them to show support at a time when it’s very easy (for all of us) to feel helpless in the face of this atrocity.” In addition to creating a poster, children could donate pocket money to one of three charities and write to an elected representative to demand stronger action and more aid for Ukraine. (Artwork courtesy of “The Week Junior”)
Inspired by “The Week Junior,” Finland’s Lasten Uutiset created its own heart in which children could draw. “After seeing amazing drawings from other countries and the drawing page from ‘The Week Junior,’ we wanted to be a part of this initiative,” said editor Fanny Froman. “It provides children with a good way to express their feelings about what is happening in Ukraine right now.” (Artwork courtesy of Lasten Uutiset)
Canadian teacher April Kendell described how her 10–year-old students at Mitford School in Cochrane, Alberta, ended up making 36 heart-shaped drawings: “A student who identifies as Ukrainian (and writes his name in Ukrainian on his work) suggested we do an art project. We brainstormed positive and uplifting messages that they themselves would want to hear in a time of crisis. The students were very happy to make the hearts, asking if they could put in symbols of hope, like rainbows or hearts,” she said. (Artwork by Airdrie coutsey of Mitford School/April Kendell)
India’s “Junior Lens” published six pages of art from young readers that sometimes diverged from an upbeat theme. “I have had messages from parents who are very happy that something good is being done, since it educates the children on the importance of peace and taking care of helpless and innocent children,” said Editor Aneesh Laiwala. (Artwork courtesy of “Junior Lens”)
The journalism section from publisher Clarín at the Argentine children’s museum, Muséo de los Niños, in Buenos Aires usually has children trace a cartoon strip but switched to suggesting they participate in #KidsDrawArt4Ukraine. (Artwork courtesy of Muséo de los Niños)
Ukrainian refugee Maria, aged 8, had reached a safe haven near Mauléon-Licharre, France, when she drew this picture of her family and home, using paper with borders donated by artists (this one by Muriel Hanny of the United States). Global Youth & News Media, which organized the #KidsDrawPeace4Ukraine, was concerned about the impact of asking refugee children to draw even positive pictures and so asked Maria and others staying near Ozenx-Montestrucq to try it. Mothers in both places endorsed the idea as a welcome respite for their children. (Artwork courtesy of Global Youth & News Media)
Young artists at the French refugee center near Mauléon-Lacharre draw using blank sheets with borders donated by American artists Muriel Hanny and Anton Pavlenko, who was a refugee from Ukraine at age 9.
Two Ukrainian children staying with a family near Ozenx-Montestrucq, Lesia, 7, and Valea, 11, drew images that were not so different from those created by the family’s two French children, Maxence, 4, and Clarisse, 7. Up to you to guess who did which. (Artwork courtesy of Global Youth & News Media)
English teacher Oksana Tomun of Ternopil, Ukraine, brought together six refugee children to look at images from around the world, by children in support of them. They then drew their own art that was displayed in a residence where 42 refugees were staying near Ozenx-Montestrucq, France. (Photo courtesy of Global Youth & News Media)
Voices of Children Foundation has helped children cope with the horrors of armed conflict in eastern Ukraine since 2015 through art and other psychological support. Now, it has expanded its psychological support to the rest of the country and is evacuating children, buying essentials for victims and building bomb shelters. This photo shows two girls drawing in a bomb shelter in Lviv in early April. “We heard a siren during class, so we went down to hide in a shelter,” an art therapist with Voices of Children Foundation tweeted. “These girls got so much into their paintings that they stayed well after the all clear was sounded.” (Photo courtesy of Voices of Children)
Exercises to consider:
- Art in support of those who have been attacked in war has a long history. Find an example and explore its origins and impact.
- Design and execute your own approach to a #KidsDrawPeace4Ukraine Project for Ukraine or another country.
- Explore why so many children around the world were so willing to make an effort in support of Ukraine but not for similar strife in other countries.
Aralynn Abare McMane, a News Decoder trustee, specializes in how news media can better serve the young. She directs the French nonprofit Global Youth & News Media and is the author of "The New News for Kids," an international report originally commissioned by the American Press Institute (2017) that she hopes to update and expand later this year. She encourages donations to Ukraine's Voices of Children Foundation.