English Paralympics swimming champion urges children to ‘think out of the box’ at SCRF 2023

English Paralympics swimming champion urges children to ‘think out of the box’ at SCRF 2023

  Ellie Robinson joins Arabic children’s writer Jikar Khorshid and Emirati
artist Aysha Saif Al Hamrani in driving home the values of creativity

Sharjah, May 13, 2023

World-beating English paralympic swimmer-turned-author Eleanor “Ellie” Robinson joined Arabic children’s writer Jikar Khorshid and Emirati artist Aysha Saif Al Hamrani in urging children to think “outside-of-the-box” at a cultural forum at the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival (SCRF 2023).

The trio explored various creative approaches to inspire children to enhance their intellectual abilities as part of an engaging panel discussion moderated by radio host Omar Al Duri, drawing examples from their own personal experiences.

When asked how bright she thought was the future for creative students, Robinson, who published her first book – Gold Medal Mysteries: Thief on the Track – just last month after retiring from a successful swimming career, said: “Thinking outside of the box is great for two reasons – first is the pursuit of progressions. We need people who experiment in science because that’s how we make discoveries, and we advance as a human race. These curious minds who make these breakthroughs are often misunderstood in school for how they are seen as disobedient and restless but they are ones who eventually lead us to critical breakthroughs”.

“The second thing is about expressing. It’s often difficult for many to articulate but using fictional narratives, they find themselves discovering their emotions,” said the 21-year-old from Northampton who suffers from the rare Perthes disease, and holds the World and the Paralympic record in the S6 50m butterfly and the World record in the 100m swimming. “Every time, I felt low, I wrote. Children should be creative in their ability to express and understand who we are. Humanity needs that restlessness, that creative thinking.”

“[Creative thinking] emphasises creative thinking techniques and highlights the benefits of cultivating creativity in children’s lives and development,” said Khorshid who writes for children as young as six. “I wouldn’t have been able to write if I were an introvert.  I write what I see and so, every year, I go all over the world and try to discover new cultures to write about for kids. Perhaps that helps me talk about different things and people. If a child has a creative mind, we must encourage him to think and explore,” he said when asked whether he would have thought differently if he had grown up in the Netherlands, where he now spends considerable time now, instead of Syria where he grew up.

Talking about inculcating values of creativity amongst children by making the right connections with them, Emirati artist Aysha Saif Al Hamrani said: “Children of this generation know more about technology than we do and as adults we cannot challenge them in this regard. Instead, we must look at translating our thoughts and messages in a very flexible manner, like stories that they can connect with. They don’t necessarily lack information but they do lack experience and guidance and we must help them to have an ethical compass and background.”


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