Yang Lan: Bringing Beauty to Children's Lives with Art
By Zhang YiEditor: Tracy Zhu
Yang Lan, a renowned Chinese media proprietor, journalist, talk show hostess and chairperson of the Sun Media Group and the Sun Culture Foundation which focuses on providing art education to migrant children, believes firmly in the power of art to positively influence children's growth and development.
|Yang Lan (M), a renowned Chinese media proprietor, journalist, talk show hostess and chairperson of the Sun Media Group and the Sun Culture Foundation which focuses on providing art education to migrant children, believes firmly in the power of art to positively influence children's growth and development. [Xinhua.com]
She shared her ideas on the topic during a meeting held by the Sun Culture Foundation under one of its many charity projects, 'Growing Up Under the Sun'.
Yang believes that art education is of great importance to the growth of every child and especially to migrant children.
Yang's opinions on the matter are based on the social background of China, where economic development and urbanization have seen huge numbers of the rural population migrating to urban areas to look for jobs. Helping these migrant workers and their children integrate into mainstream urban society has become a pressing social issue during this transitional period.
Since many current policies and institutions have still not caught up with the country's social and economic development, the rights and social security of these migrant children and adolescents have largely been neglected. Education, employment and social benefits are far less accessible to migrant children living in cities than they are to city-born children
For these migrant children who are in such a disadvantaged situation, Yang believes that art education is the most effective way to empower them. Art education can help them connect to their surroundings and identify their strong points and talents. It can also arm them with the bravery and resourcefulness they need to face life difficulties.
Yang believes that teaching these children to make and enjoy art can bring them comfort, add more fun to their lives, and encourage them to express themselves.
Under Yang's leadership, the 'Growing Up Under the Sun' project has helped many migrant children explore art together.
The project emphasizes the development of children's innovative thinking ability and imagination. It helps children experience the fun of art and make more friends through art.
The idea for the project came from an activity organized by the Sun Culture Foundation in 2007.
That year, the foundation launched a project in cooperation with the National Ballet of China to provide free ballet lessons to students at two migrant children's schools in Beijing. In all, the project provided ballet lessons to more than 70 children, many of whom had a reputation for being troubled youth. However, through the discipline and fun of the ballet lessons, these children improved their behavior.
After the training, they gave a performance at Beijing's Tianqiao Theater, with dancers from the National Ballet of China. More than 1,000 people attended the performance, including the students' parents, teachers and classmates. It was a huge boost to the children's confidence.
After the performance, the children received certificates of achievement and many were moved to tears. It was the success of this project that led the foundation's organizers to realize how powerful the arts could be in giving migrant children confidence, developing their personalities and helping them assimilate into mainstream urban society.
Yang herself personally believes that being able to appreciate and enjoy the arts, from visual arts to music to performing arts, is a true blessing. She often tells the story of Wu Tao, a young chef acquaintance of hers, who loves playing the guitar.
Wu was a rural boy who used to live next to the railway tracks in his hometown. Every few minutes, when a train ran by his home, the noise was deafening. Despite the noise, Wu started playing the guitar, having received one from famous Chinese singer Ai Jing when Wu attended a Sun Culture Foundation activity several years ago.
After Wu graduated from junior middle school, he quit school and found a job, like many migrant adolescents. When volunteers of the Sun Culture Foundation interviewed him about his life, he was working as a dish-washer at a restaurant. He said that he was happy with his life and his dream was to become a good chef. He added that he wanted to be an ethical chef who would not use gutter oil, which is a term for oil that has been reused and recycled several times. Gutter oil has been a major food safety problem in China. When the foundation volunteers asked if he still played the guitar, Wu smiled and said that of course he did. He said that his guitar had become his lifelong friend and had carried him through some difficult times.
Yang says, "These migrant children may grow up to have harsh lives, working menial jobs and long hours. But if we can give them an appreciation for art, we can help add a little beauty to their lives."
Yang and her foundation are more determined than ever to provide migrant children with free art education to help them develop into more well-rounded individuals with a better, brighter future.
(Source:yangtse.com/ Translated and edited by womenofchina.cn)
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