Happy Hands is a community art program focusing on letting your kids develop their fun and creative side. Carolin Schmitz is the founder and director of Happy Hands. She says, “Happy Hands is a place where parents can bring their children to experience messy crafts, fun and sensory play. They are all the things that parents are not too keen on doing at home because, let’s face it, it leaves a big mess, right?” Happy Hands is true to their motto ‘The mess stays with us!’ Which is exactly what every parent wants to hear.
In 2011 the first branch of Happy Hands opened in Nunawading, Victoria where it was established as a non-profit community program. Children aged 1-5 years and their parents enjoy a comfortable, vibrant space where they can interact together and get creative.
Carolin says, “I have a creative background and I’ve been involved in children’s ministries for quite a long time. At the time it was just for the church that I was involved in and we ran that class for 3-4 weeks, word got around that there was an affordable quality art class running. Someone from the local newspaper contacted me and said ‘We’ve heard about this art program, we would love to come and do a story’. We ended up running two sessions at this site and started a waiting list!” Happy Hands has continued to grow, now with 16 sites across Victoria, Queensland and more recently New South Wales.
Happy Hands is a very practical hands-on program that is designed to build self-confidence in children by exploring new things. Carolin explains, “We create a fun, nurturing space where we are encouraging the process of making something and not worrying about the perfect end result. It gives the children the freedom and imagination to be able to come up with their own interpretation of things.” The sessions run for 1.5 hours and are very structured, understanding that children this age have a short attention span and respond well to structure.
“We live in a technology world and you often see children with their iPads or with their iPhones being out of touch with things around them. We are really intentional about creating these environments where children are encouraged to experience, feel, create, paint and glue,” says Carolin. This program demonstrates that children can have fun without technology.
There are a lot of benefits for parents attending Happy Hands as well. In addition to seeing your child engaged in hands-on creative activities, there’s plenty of opportunity to meet other parents, make friendships and be part of a supportive community. “We are creating a space where mums can meet other mums, where there is a community feel, a space where people can feel that they belong, but also a place where parents can spend special bonding time with their child each week.”
Most Happy Hands teams are run by volunteers, which means the program is affordable for any family. Where a swimming lesson would cost around $15 to $25 for half an hour, your child can enjoy a whole 1.5 creative hours for only $8.80, which includes a healthy morning tea! The Happy Hands team are committed to making their program accessible to anyone. For more information visit happyhandsart.com.au.
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