“I was bullied as a child, many, many times while I was growing up. There was a lot of verbal and emotional bullying that went on. I did not feel safe or protected at all.”
“However, there was one thing that gave me a sense of joy and strength, and even safety as a child, which was singing and music,” Illani, co-founder of CreaTee Kit, shared with Vulcan Post.
As a firm believer in the power of arts in healing, Illani was passionate about creating an artistic outlet for children to find the same joy and security she did in arts.
Hence, she and her sister, Masliza, founded CreaTee Kit, a social enterprise that produces t-shirt DIY kits for children ages 5 to 12. They’re meant to build emotional intelligence and be a fun activity for children and their parents to make art together.
What Do T-Shirts Have To Do With Bullying?
One CreaTee Kit includes a t-shirt or bag along with art materials like stencils, googly eyes, glue, paint, batik, felt-tip markers, 3D paint, and fabric markers.
There’s a variety of animal stencils to choose from like a rabbit, giraffe, cat, etc. Their t-shirt and canvas kits retail at RM68 per kit each, and they also have a subscription box that costs RM220 for 3 months. They also organise workshops on how to create these DIY kits for children as well.
For those of us who aren’t too well-versed in early childhood education, it may not be as easy to understand the link between creating these tees and how they help with bullying in the bigger picture.
“Bullying happens because of the lack of confidence in both parties, the bully and the bullied. Our mission is about sowing the seeds of confidence and self-esteem through the process of creation at a young age, to build their emotional intelligence so that things do not progress negatively as they grow,” Illani explained.
Illani added that the pillars of emotional intelligence include having self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, social skills, and empathy.
How their DIY kits catalyses emotional intelligence is that when a child uses their kit, it encourages deliberate thinking and decision-making during the creation process, which helps build self-awareness.
And since their creation process requires a lot of concentration, it allows kids to be able to complete the work and in return feel accomplished for finishing their art, which ultimately adds to their self-confidence and emotional intelligence.
Moreover, since their parents can work together with their children on this craft, parents can get to know their child better and are able to identify any behavioural problems in their child.
Giving Back To Underprivileged Children
As a social enterprise, they donate part of their profits to organise free t-shirt workshops for underprivileged children, such as those in PPR flats, refugee groups like the Rohingya people, Orang Asli schools, and more.
Speaking of which, during one of their workshops with children living in PPR flats, they met a girl who could only speak Tamil and was quite terrified when she first walked into the workshop full of strangers.
“There was a lot of hand gesturing and coaxing for her to do the activity, and she eventually managed to pull through with flying colours. By the end of the session, she put her t-shirt on and hung out with other kids. She even helped clean up the whole space when everybody left. That girl left with a smile proud of her achievement, and this is the impact of our work on one’s esteem-building and emotional intelligence,” Illani shared.
One of the main challenges that Illani and Masliza face with this social enterprise is helping people understand the impact they’re trying to make with these DIY kits.
“We’ve had comments where parents say that the end product might not be beautiful. There lies the misunderstanding. The beauty of CreaTee lies in the process, not the final product. No matter how the t-shirt comes out, the kids are more than happy because it’s theirs,” Illani affirmed.
They also found that there are parents who don’t take their startup seriously because the use of arts in the impact they’re trying to make is frivolous to some.
“Parents would rather buy new clothing items or electrical gadgets. Some cannot get past the fact that they have to design the t-shirt themselves instead of buying a ready-made one.”
“Again, we think this is all about educating Malaysians about alternative learning. And parents need to want to spend time with their children,” the sisters shared with Vulcan Post.
Since they’ve helped join the dots for me on how DIY t-shirts can help with emotional intelligence, it’s clearer now how they’re trying to achieve the impact they want through arts.
However, this was a process that they had to share with me extensively for me to see the bigger picture of it all. For parents with only a few minutes of their time to spare, it may still be hard to grasp the importance of what they’re doing. However, making art as a means of achieving emotional intelligence has been studied with positive results.
CreaTee Kit can take the opportunity to reach out to more educators as well to spread their reach and impact, and perhaps may one day be involved in national anti-bullying campaigns through their work too.
Featured Image Credit: Illani and Masliza, co-founders of CreaTee Kit
Prime Minister Najib Razak has one of the most “likes” as well as “followers” on Facebook in Malaysia. To-date his Facebook page has gathered almost 2.8 million likes, which is way more than any other Malaysian politician, such as former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who stands at 2.4 million.
PM Najib, who also claims that he is an avid user of social media, can also be seen actively updating his Twitter and Instagram account. Like most Facebook marketing techniques, his social media page is usually filled with positive stuff. For example, the Facebook post below shows PM Najib with two boys wearing new clothes sponsored by the 1M4U movement.
or this one.
Although these posts have attracted around 13,000 likes and numerous favourites and retweets, if you take a look at the comments section, they were largely negative and were mostly regarding the high cost of living, petrol price hikes, the Najib-1MDB scandal.
“Uncle Najib I want to ask you, why is the petrol price increasing? Have you not taken enough illegal money for your meals?” commented Facebook user Fazliy Fazliy Rahman Rahman. Another user Haji Duan said, “We, the Malaysians, hoping that you will pass away.” These are just some of the many hate messages that he receives.
Recently PM Najib revealed that he is “depressed” with the online media who is more concerned with the speed of news as opposed to accuracy in writing up their reports. The Malay Mail Online reported him saying, “I am depressed, politicians are depressed because we are easy targets. The print media loses out on circulation and we lose out on votes.”[caption id="attachment_304621" align="alignnone" width="702"] Image Credit: IbTimes[/caption]
In this case, PM Najib’s social presence is a good example to show that even if you have a big following and high number of likes on social media, that doesn’t mean that you’re actually favourable. With all these rumours regarding PM Najib, and all these social media scorns consisting of keyboard warriors and people who conduct cyber bullying, of course he is “depressed”!
At the end of the day, PM Najib is just like the rest of us. After all we are all human beings, standing on the same ground, breathing the same air. Regardless of how powerful or wealthy you are, there will always be someone, or something that could bring you down.
Language is powerful. Hate comments could affect how we look at ourselves, these new forms of bullying are much harsher and more severe than the childhood teasing.
In present society, we’re somehow defined by a culture of likes, tweets and favourites. Like it or not, human beings are weak at the end of the day. Our mind are easily fooled into the mindset of seeking approval from other people. For example, if you were to do a good deed and post it on social media, and all you get is harsh and mean comments, wouldn’t you feel sad and unappreciated?
Of course you would.
If you are one of those who would fall for hate comments and end up feeling self-critical, then you should realise that you depend too much on validation from others. We should be happy that we have done something good, and not based on what others think of us on the comment section.
Confidence (not arrogance, mind you) is the key to be mentally strong and that quality is what everyone should strive for. There’s no way we can completely erase hate comments and negativity, but at least if you believe in yourself, that would shape positivity and healthy self impressions. Although that can be hard to achieve, but in the long run it is worth it.