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‘Impacting young people’s creativity through craft books’

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Ukwudi Maryann Ogbeche

Staying in the midst of school children and young people, teaching them different creative skills, no doubt has made Ukwudi Maryann Ogbeche discover the dearth of craft books in the country. This has spurred her to consider filling the void.

The founder of Snuggles, a craft and attitude brand, went into her studies and within two years, came out with three books — Craft And Attitude: Quick And Easy Projects For Kids; Creativity Saves The Day; and Craft And Attitude: Activity And Colouring Book — that would not only keep pupils busy after school but also help their mental alertness.

On the inspiration to write the books, Ogbeche said, “ the children I work with inspired me to write. I needed a craft book that had items that children/teenagers could make and actually use, sell or give out as gifts, using materials that were accessible in our environment. I needed a book where each step was clearly illustrated and written in a very simple and clear language. I could not find any. So, I decided to write mine when it was proving very difficult to get the right books.”

According to the author, after writing the book on craft, she moved ahead to write two more — a story and activity books.

Ogbeche informed that Craft And Attitude: Quick And Easy Projects For Kids is an educational tool that does not only entertain kids, but helps them develop skills such as resilience, attention to details, focus, patience, creative thinking and others in a fun and relaxed way.

The book, she revealed, has four sections — fabric, yarn, bead, and other crafts, that can bring out the innate creative abilities of any child.

“Kids /teenagers will learn to make quick and easy items that can be used, sold or given out as gifts using materials that are readily available within the environment,” she disclosed.

Is your colouring book different from others already in the market? “Yes, mine is filled with fun activities,” she said, adding, “it comes with a variety of activities, including crossword puzzles, word search, dot-to-dot, Sudoku, fill in the blank spaces, patterns that allow for creative expressions, improved cognitive skills and so much more. With it, kids get to learn new things while being positively occupied.” 

While her two books are laden with crafts and colouring that boost creativity, the third book, though a storybook dwells on savings culture, judicious use of time and entrepreneurship.

Ogbeche, who loves relating with children and young people outside facilitating extracurricular activities for schools, disclosed that she writes because she wants children and young people to imbibe the culture of spending time wisely and also to acquire at least one skill/trade in life.

According to her, kids and young people acquiring life skills early in life will help see them through adulthood apart from positively impacting their behaviour and relationship with others.

She said: “I write because I want to encourage kids and young people to take pride in working with their hands, make them know that there is always something they could do to legitimately earn a living. I want to use my works to instill the ‘I can do it’ mentality because, with it, young people can achieve anything they set their minds to do in life. I also want them to develop the habit of saving money while fostering entrepreneurship.”

Urging parents, guardians, teachers, and caregivers to desist from basing learning only on academic outcomes, the author noted that arts and crafts have the mechanics to make learners gain from academic and behavioural outcomes and coming out a better person.

She called for the encouragement of expression of creativity in learning, especially among kids and teens, saying it leads learners towards a journey of self-discovery, empowerment and transformation.

She noted: “It is easier to get children and young people to learn when they are doing things they enjoy most. Through play, they begin to consciously or subconsciously learn some life skills as we subtly draw attention to these skills in the three books. I choose to express these ideas for now, through writing and crafting.”

Do Nigerian youths still read?

“Yes,” the author responded in the affirmative, saying from her experience, “a large number of kids and teenagers love to read, but need the right encouragement to do so.”

She called on parents to provide the right reading materials for their children, adding that their collections should go beyond their recommended school textbooks.

Explaining some of her encounters while writing the books, the arts and craft enthusiast disclosed that there were times it seemed she should call it quits, but because of her aim, she threw all the challenges behind her and forged ahead and today, she is grateful for the published works.


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