Meet Lily Kudzro: A social entrepreneur with creative impact November 14, 2017 in Our Change Leaders
When a child glides a blue paintbrush across a canvas to compose a lake, or sculpts an elephant from clay, something magical happens. That magic is not found in the finished product; it’s unimportant whether a painting resembles a real lake, or if an elephant’s trunk is proportional to its body. The magic is in the process of creating.
It’s the magic of the creative process that Lily Kudzro is introducing to Ghanaian and Kenyan children through the Devio Arts Centre, a social enterprise that aims to promote the creative educational rights and inclusion of young people, especially those from marginalized backgrounds. Devio Arts is disrupting education in Kenya and Ghana by scaling its Impact Learning Curriculum, which includes a unique combination of arts, design thinking, personal development, games and sign language lessons.
When children learn to tap into their artistic creativity, they are doing more than drawing, painting or sculpting. They are engaging in activities that promote cognitive development and promote learning and success in other academic areas. The arts play an important role in children’s social and emotional development as well. And that’s where the real magic happens.
As a human rights activist and creative individual herself, Lily recognized that creative arts in Ghana, particularly fine arts, were being devalued in Ghana’s education system. She found that most graduates were trained to manage existing systems, but without creative education, few had been taught to creatively problem solve, a skill that she found to be a huge advantage in the workplace. It was that gap in education that prompted Lily to found Devio Arts, which has since expanded operations to Kenya.
“When I dropped out of school due to financial reasons, it was my creative skills that actually landed me most of the big jobs I got into, while most graduates remain unemployed and without the creative skills to even start their own businesses.” Says Lily. “I founded Devio Arts to help other young people reach their full potential by bridging the gap in the educational process of Ghana and the entire African continent since this problems cuts across various African countries.”
Devio Arts impacted the lives of 2000 children and trained 135 teachers in 2016 alone, and this year, the social enterprise expanded its work into Kenya to scale its work in educational reform. Lily and her team also recently added sign language into their curriculum, to help make education more inclusive and accessible for all children.
“We realized that sign language speaking is an art itself, and the coordination of combining the brain and fingers to communicate helps children increase their concentration skills as well as critical thinking skills, which is exactly in line with our work,” says Lily. “The only difference between deaf children and hearing children's learning outcomes is only linked to communication, so therefore if all children are engaged with sign language deaf children can be educated along side hearing children who can achieve the same learning outcomes, and potentials in the long run.”
Lily Kudzro is an alumnus of the Reach for Change Incubator program and received support to develop Devio Arts into a sustainable, scalable social enterprise from 2014 to 2016.