Women Today - June 2009

Nurturing Children's Creativity

Children as young as four years old were totally immersed in their drawings using oil pastels on paper. It was as if the world stood still and nothing else mattered at that moment. There were only six children per class in sessions that would last for about an hour and a half.

"As per our experience, that's the maximum length of time children between four and seven years old can stay focused," explains Yenny T. Saw, a young wife and mother who established Global Art Philippines (Ortigas Ave., San Juan) about two years ago, who comes from Surabaya, Indonesia, is married to Dexter Saw, a Filipino - Chinese entrepreneur.

Having worked and studied in her native Indonesia as well as in the United States, Yenny is accustomed to a busy schedule. When she and her husband settled down in the Philippines, she told him that her career would have to be something related to education, which is mainly her background. Yenny explains that she loves children and likes working with them, thus Global Art was heaven-sent for her.

The school has its roots in Malaysia and was founded by art educator Mahair Goh ten years ago. Yenny who was involved in early childhoods education prior to putting up her own franchise, was impressed with the school's phenomenal growth. She notes, "in such a short time, the school has spread to 16 countries that include the Philippines and to date, it has a total of 450 centers and some 100,000 students."

Even here, Yenny finds the response overwhelming. "I thought it would be very difficult to invite partners to open outlets. But I was wrong because in less than a year, we opened branches in Salcedo Village in Makati, The Fort, (near Serendra) in Taguig, and in Banawe, Quezon City." She has been receiving a lot of inquiries but Yenny believes in "doing things slowly but surely."

A real love for the arts is one of Yenny's considerations when a franchisee applies and another is a true love for children.

"In this field, it cannot be business only. Children are sensitive and intelligent - they know if their teacher is only fooling them," Yenny points out. "our program teaches a skill that children will ise for the rest of their lives and provides them as well with an alternative hobby as opposed to having their eyes glued on video games."

Yenny studied at the modern Montessori Training Centre in Singapore, claiming, "This strongly enhanced my interest in art education for children." Her subsequent studies in Seattle, Washington, focused on financial management 9for her master's degree) and operation management (for her bachelor's degree).

Marriage did not prevent Yenny from pursuing her interest in early childhood's education. "I guess that is the appeal of Global Art to me. The day to day operation keeps me busy with the business side of things; otherwise, I prefer to handle some of the classes."

For starters, Yenny had eight students, now she had almost a hundred and four teachers to assist her. Students are provided with a special set of 60 oil pastels with each color in at least three shade gradations. As they go to the other levels, the students are given color pencils and poster colors, too. According to Yenny, their approach to drawing is like "story telling on paper."

Global Art also offers courses like sketching, painting, and cartoon. Each course may last from four to six months.

"Through Global Art, we can at least offer our children an alternative to television and video games." Yenny says as we close our interview that morning at the Global Art Ortigas center.

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