A PhD student at the University of Dundee has developed a crafty way to entertain local youngsters during lockdown.
Vicky Armstrong, a researcher with the School of Social Sciences MiniMeLab, has partnered with charity Home-Start Dundee to provide art therapy materials for families struggling to stay entertained.
Vicky has been hosting Art at the Start sessions as part of her work, which examine how participation in art can impact upon a child’s wellbeing, their interaction with parents and guardians, and their behavioural patterns.
However, with lockdown forcing the cancellation of her sessions at Dundee Contemporary Arts, Vicky has used a portion of her research budget to compile boxes of art materials to distribute to parents in the Tayside area.
Featuring worksheets, paints, papers, chalks, crayons, and other items, the boxes allow babies and toddlers to use the various materials to explore textures and colours as part of messy play sessions.
After gathering the materials at her home, Vicky has distributed 30 boxes to local families, as well as health visitors and family nurses.
“Lots of parents had been really disappointed when I had to call and let them know that the art therapy groups could no longer go ahead,” said Vicky.
“For mums and dads it’s about losing a source of support, and they still need activities to fill the day.
“I’m hoping the boxes will make them feel supported and will give them something that helps them to have fun together and be playful and creative, even though the circumstances are so strange.”
Vicky is an Art Psychotherapist and the Art at the Start project is run in collaboration with the University’s Dr Josephine Ross.
Her research was recently commended by the Scottish Graduate School of Social Science in its Research Impact and Knowledge Exchange Competition.
“Art therapy is a great way to help children bond with their parents,” Vicky added.
“Obviously this a testing time for many parents, so to be able to provide entertainment for young children at this time is incredibly important.
“It is also helping parents and children to connect, so while lockdown may be difficult for many, Art at the Start can hopefully provide some long-term benefits.”