A wake-up action: #ArtConnects Online Course for children with special needs


With limitations on the public's ability to enjoy arts and culture, the UNESCO Almaty Office joined the global #ResiliArt movement to bring art to the most vulnerable, including children with special needs. The series of online courses offered by young talents from the Kazakh Federation of UNESCO Clubs demonstrated the power of art to unite and connect, to comfort, and bring hope at the time of crises. - Krista Pikkat, Director of UNESCO Almaty Office

Imagine being filled with feelings and emotions, yet unable to express how you feel. This is what many vulnerable children and their families face during this universal crisis. With the global surge in COVID-19 cases and the threat to life-saving health services, all children of all ages are being affected by its socio-economic impacts, especially for those who need special needs and attention. It is well documented that, like most children, those with special needs enjoy being creative. The arts can provide a relaxing and fulfilling platform for children, even their parents, to explore feelings and ideas, and enhance their communication and promote their self-esteem.  

The COVID-19 outbreak has changed many aspects of our lives, but during this uncertain time, it is certain that our children are still growing and learning. Therefore, in the framework of the UNESCO’s global campaign #ResiliArts, the UNESCO Almaty Cluster Office with support of the Kazakhstan National Federation of UNESCO Clubs launched online courses from 23 April to 11 May, which aimed to support the healthy development of vulnerable children and families, relieving their stress through art conversations. 

This course attracted 30 artists and 109 children (5-17 years old) were registered from four countries in Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), 90% of whom are children with special needs. A total of 58 workshops were held to promote children's expression through different disciplines such as visual arts, choreography and literature.


With art, there is no right or wrong answer. Children and families who participated in this course have created conversations, shared works, and inspired each other. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our lives and the way we interact, life lessons that learn to find insight through the hardest time and failure naturally arose in this arts education. Regardless of children’s developmental, behavioural, and emotional issues, their appreciated artworks have enhanced feelings of self-worth, not only for children but also for their families.

“My daughter really liked the tales. She is thrilled. She is not so good at drawing. And if in general, let me thank you. Your project helped us-parents a lot, and brought a crazy delight of the children" – Mom of Sofia, Kazakhstan.