Healing pain with art

The winter issue of the children’s magazine Dragonfly, published by Liget Műhely Alapítvány, was centred around the topic of pain and how we can deal with it. It discussed both physical and mental pain, explained the evolutional reason why our body needs pain as a warning and looked at various interesting ways of treating pain from the ancient Eastern methods to healing herbs and the discovery of morphine. An article was about the healing effects of music, another revealed the symptoms of mental pain. Do animals feel pain the way we humans do?, asked another article and explained the physiological differences between dogs and worms. And what about plants? Do they suffer like animals? – this was another question that was discussed in yet another article that also introduced the network trees use to communicate, the Wood Wide Web. Children could read about various fascinating topics, e.g.  How do we heal when we hurt ourselves? Can you believe that the weight of an adult’s skin can be as much as 10 kilos? And that redheads can tolerate pain better than others?

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This magazine is unique not only because it is exquisitely designed by graphic artists and contains well-written, funny and interesting poems, tales and articles that accommodate the special needs of elementary school children, but due to its complexity in content and purpose. It combines the advantages of a colourful magazine with the educational materials of a schoolbook. 

Dragonfly, the educational programme for elementary school children that is based on the magazine started in 2008 and it has co-operated with over 300 schools in Hungary, and Hungarian-speaking institutions in Romania, Ukraine, Slovakia, Slovenia and Serbia reaching thousands of teachers and over 10 000 students each year. The main goal is to provide schools with a visually attractive literary and ecological children’s magazine for free and instructing the teachers about how to use it in their everyday work. 

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In only two months the winter issue of the magazine was used by 307 teachers 693 times and was read by 5309 children in school. 168 auxiliary materials have been created that are freely downloadable from the website of the programme. The tales and poems can also be downloaded in audio format to help children with special needs and younger children who cannot read yet.

Teachers have reported touching stories about children opening up in class and speaking about their own pains of neglect, loneliness, being hurt by others or their fears. A young boy who is in childcare and was known to be difficult and incommunicative was enchanted by the magazine and opened up to his classmates. Even teachers were affected by the stories, poems and articles and during the teacher trainings revealed their own frustrations.