06 December 2006 The fine art of making friends with ORT South Africa The importance of art to childrens education has been highlighted by ORT South Africas inaugural Art Competition. Hundreds of children in 30 nursery and primary schools around Johannesburg took part in the competition, submitting paintings on the theme What I love about South Africa. Their art was exhibited at a prize giving ceremony at the Glenhazel Synagogue Hall. This was a wonderful opportunity for ORT to get involved with parents and children, said ORT SA National Director Michael Sieff. And it proved to be so popular with children, parents and teachers alike that the competition looks certain to become an annual event. The launch of next years event has already been set for July 25 with the exhibition due in October. There are also plans for a similar event in Cape Town. The theme of next years event, which was an initiative of Johannesburg Womens ORT (JWO), will be chosen by ORT SA from recommendations submitted by teachers at the participating schools. Prize winners Masechaba Phakela and Lesley Netshiendeulu. ORT SA Fundraising Executive Carol Rod said the enthusiastic response had significantly raised public awareness of ORT and its mission of Educating for Life. Weve made hundreds of new friends because of this, Ms Rod said. But we have also made an educational point. In some schools there is no art teacher and anything that is not strictly academic is not considered work. ORT is known for promoting science and technology but were saying that art and expressing yourself through art is also a part of a childs education. JWO Chair Sandra Guggenheim with JWO member Betty Rajak and her grandchildren. Very young children were considered too young to compete for prizes, so every nursery school that entered the event received a hamper of useful items including music tapes and crayons. Those schools which managed 100 per cent participation by its pupils each received a DVD player. The artwork submitted by primary school pupils was divided into four age groups between six and 13. Their paintings were judged by professional artists and winners were presented with prizes such as MP3 players and watches. It was so difficult to choose winners that we decided to give out more prizes to runners up and to reward special effort, Ms Rod said. Next years competition promises to be much larger, she added, so work had already started on collecting sponsorship for the greater number of prizes needed.