“I was bullied many, many times as a kid growing up. There was a lot of verbal and emotional bullying. I didn't feel safe or protected at all. "
“However, there was one thing that gave me a sense of joy and strength and even security as a kid, which was singing and music,” Illani, co-founder of CreaTee Kit, told Vulcan Post.
A firm belief in the power of art in healing, Illani was passionate about creating an artistic medium for children to find the same joy and security that she had in art.
So she and her sister Masliza started CreaTee Kit, a social enterprise that makes t-shirt DIY kits for kids ages 5 to 12. They are designed to build emotional intelligence and be a fun activity for kids and their parents to art together.
What do t-shirts have to do with bullying?
A CreaTee kit contains a t-shirt or bag as well as art materials such as stencils, googly eyes, glue, paint, batik, felt-tip pens, 3D paint, and fabric markers.
There are a variety of animal stencils to choose from including rabbits, giraffes, cats, etc. The t-shirt and canvas kits are RM688 each per kit. There is also a subscription box that costs RM 220 for 3 months. They also organize workshops on creating these DIY kits for children.
For those of us who are not very knowledgeable about early childhood education, it may not, by and large, be that easy to understand the connection between the making of these teas and their help with bullying.
“Bullying happens because of a lack of trust in both parties, the bully and the bullied. Our mission is to sow the seeds of confidence and self-esteem at a young age through the process of creation in order to build their emotional intelligence so that things don't turn out negatively as they grow, ”explained Illani.
Illani added that the pillars of emotional intelligence include self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, social skills, and empathy.
Some kids working on their DIY tees / Image Credit: CreaTee Kit
The way their DIY kits catalyze emotional intelligence is that when a child uses their kit it stimulates conscious thinking and decision making during the creation process, which helps build self-esteem.
And since their creative process requires a lot of focus, children can complete the work and in return feel completed for the completion of their art, which ultimately adds to their self-esteem and emotional intelligence.
Because their parents can work with their children on this craft, parents can get to know their child better and spot behavioral problems in their child.
Giving back to disadvantaged children
As a social enterprise, they donate part of their profits to organize free t-shirt workshops for disadvantaged children, e.g. B. in PPR apartments, refugee groups like the Rohingya, Orang Asli schools and more.
Speaking of which, during one of their workshops with children who live in PPR apartments, they met a girl who could only speak Tamil and was quite scared when she went to the workshop full of strangers for the first time.
“There was a lot of hand gesturing and persuasion for her to do the activity, and she eventually got through with flying colors. At the end of the session, she put on her t-shirt and spent time with other children. She even helped clean up the whole room when everyone left. This girl left with a smile that took pride in her achievement and that is the impact our work has on someone's appreciation and emotional intelligence, ”shared Illani.
One of the biggest challenges for Illani and Masliza at this social enterprise is helping people understand the impact they are trying to make with these DIY kits.
Design however you want / Photo credit: CreaTee Kit
"We have received comments where parents say the end product may not be beautiful. That's where the misunderstanding lies. The beauty of CreaTee lies in the process, not in the end product. No matter how the t-shirt comes out, the kids are more than happy because it is theirs, ”confirmed Illani.
They also found out that there are parents who don't take their startup seriously because some people find it frivolous to use art to achieve the effect they want.
“Parents would prefer to buy new clothes or electrical appliances. Some cannot avoid having to design the t-shirt themselves instead of buying a finished one. "
“We believe again that it is about educating Malaysians about alternative learning. And parents need to want to spend time with their children, ”the sisters shared with Vulcan Post.
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Since they helped me figure out how DIY t-shirts can help with emotional intelligence, it is now more clear how they are trying to get the desired effect through art.
However, this was a process that they had to share with me extensively so that I could see the bigger picture of it all. Parents who only have a few minutes to spare may still find it difficult to understand the importance of what they do. However, doing art as a means of attaining emotional intelligence has been studied with positive results.
CreaTee Kit may take the opportunity to reach out to more educators to spread its reach and impact, and possibly one day also be involved in national anti-bullying campaigns through their work.
- You can find more information about the CreaTee Kit here.
- More social enterprises that we have written here can be found here.
Selected image source: Illani and Masliza, co-founders of CreaTee Kit