The overarching goal of the CDP is to improve the quality of the early learning years for young children. All CDP Early Childhood Development initiatives are driven through the continuity of learning through the creative arts. We believe that healthy, creative and sustainable ECD Centres provide the safest, most nurturing environments that are conducive to the development of the whole child.

The focus is on Trainers, Practitioners, Community Development Workers and Toy Librarians training.

The Women Make their Mark Programmes focus on women activists. The Programme gives creative voice in the visual arts to women activists, centering on issues of gender and patriarchy, women's rights; and towards building advocacy and transforming women's lives.
The programme consists of the following projects:

  • Naledi YaMeso (the morning star shines brightest)
  • ArtAsAdvocacy
  • ArtAsEconomic Liberation (Teach a women to fish)
  • Train the Trainer
  • Regional Learning and Innovation Hub

The CDP is located in the Inner City, in the Greater Ellis Park Precinct. It is a socio-economically depressed community that faces many survival and social interaction challenges. It is one of the oldest immigrant and migrant suburbs in Johannesburg populating sub-Saharan and Africa immigrants and refugees.
There are four particular contributions that the CDP makes for the community:

  • Fun Art Friday
  • The refugee and immigrants/local residents
  • Community Building - Lanterns Festival
  • The physical environment

The CDP believes that schools play a central role in developing the value system that guides a nation. Our organization uses different arts methodologies to create an awareness of these values and create a space for learners to freely develop an attachment to their country through the arts.
The CDP Trust facilitates the following projects in the schools unit:

  • Arts and culture educator training
  • Gauteng children's carnival
  • Human rights education through arts
  • Artists in schools
  • National symbols
  • Schools holiday projects

Arts and Culture Educator Training:

The CDP has been part of numerous National and Provincial Curriculum Policy development initiatives since 1996. Training is provided through a two weeks course of multi-disciplinary arts practice and methodology, critique and planning for implementation, commissioned by government departments for educators ranging from Grade R/ Foundation Phase to Senior Phases. The result has been a substantial increase in the enthusiasm of school heads and educators ensuring access to creative learning in the schools.

Gauteng Carnival:

The Gauteng Carnival makes it possible for the CDP to bring together a number of schools annually in preparation for the Carnival. Young artists, learners and educators come together and work collaboratively in the design and making of masks and costumes; exploring cultural and environmental issues. Learners are also exposed to the elements and principles of art. The process is an innovative, integrated approach of the arts in all learning areas.

Human Rights Education through Arts:

Human Rights Education through Arts is a project through which the CDP offers training of its unique integration of gender, art-making techniques and human rights approach as a means of creating a voice and a safe space for learners in schools. Within the project learners are encouraged to explore their identities and understandings of diversity issues while developing skills to ultimately support a “rights based" advocacy work.

Artists in Schools:

The CDP developed the Artist in Schools Policy Document that embraces the role of the arts in all learning areas. This sports document was approved by the Gauteng Department of Arts, Culture and Recreation in January 2013. In addition the CDP implements the Artist in Schools Programme in the Moretele District of the North West Province having trained Arts & Culture Educators from Primary and High Schools. Art lesson plans were developed and followed by classroom implementation support visits.

National Symbols:

National symbols are defined in terms of the constitution of South Africa and are meant to promote reconciliation and nation building. The CDP was commissioned by GSACR to work with a number of schools to use the visual arts to create an awareness of the national symbols and national coat of arms to develop permanent artworks like mosaic to constantly remind learners of their rich national heritage.

Schools Holiday Projects:

During the school holidays children from the surrounding community area are invited to the CDP Centre to explore a variety of creative arts activities. We provide a fun and inspiring atmosphere through our informative activities which contain art education as well real art techniques.

Fun Art Friday:

Many children are on the streets after school, some till late in the afternoons as parents or caregivers are working. When funding is available, the CDP runs art projects for groups of school going children. They come to the Centre once a week, have a meal, and involve themselves in creative activities with much joy. The children never stop coming!

The Physical Environment:

A hugely successful community building project was the mosaic work in the children's park where the women and the children collaborated on the image narratives and the women made and installed the artwork. A group of women were also involved in the making of the "White Miner's Strike" Mosaic opposite the sports stadium. It is the CDP's aim to continue to make a difference to the physical environment in Bertrams through skills development for public artworks.

The Refugees and Immigrants/Local Residents:

The CDP runs ArtasEconomic Liberation programmes once per year for a minimum of three weeks. Unemployed women from the community are invited to participate in a skills development programme, they are given kits to start small projects from their homes to assist in generating an income to sustain their families.

Community Building - Lanterns Festival:

The children of Bertrams were brought together to the CDP Centre for trust building activities. Local South African children and those of Foreign Nationals, still experiencing the trauma of the attacks and having witnessed what adults had done to each other and their families, were supported and given a space to find each other to learn to be together again. The fear associated with their experiences has not totally dissipated now, and programmes are still as much needed as before. The CDP will raise support to run another Children's Lanterns Festival where they discuss living together, make large and beautiful lanterns and walk safely through the streets, singing and inviting residents to join them, to the park to hold a musical celebration.

Naledi YaMeso:

Aims to teach women who work with women's groups to engage directly in the creative arts as expressive vehicles for transformation. Participants learn to use a range of visual media to explore, understand, and give testimony to their own experiences of our gendered environment. They gain confidence, knowledge and skills to speak out, they claim and protect their rights, strengthen their roles as leaders, and work towards becoming creators of public advocacy media around issues affecting their lives. They further learn to transfer these skills to other women they work with; building women's healing and growth.


This course aims to empower organisations and individuals particularly women who are involved in social justice and feminist struggles by encouraging them to explore, and voice their own experiences and struggles. It creates a space for women to act with self-determination, in a society which consistently silences and "others" women. Through this project, women can redefine their own understanding, examine their roles and realities and put forward their demands. The project also provides a platform for women to build their advocacy capacity: to educate, inform and mobilise women and society as a whole, around particular issues and demands.

ArtasEconomic Liberation:

A Skills development training in a range of accessible, viable and transferable arts practices, including public art, that addresses the endemic lack of opportunities for women and the resulting exclusion of women from the market place. The project further confronts the culturally embedded, oppressive patriarchal practices impacting on and affecting women. The ultimate aim of the project is giving women income-generating skills, leading to self-supporting work and independence.

Regional Learning and Innovation Hub:

The Hub serves as a unique learning centre integrating technology, information and expertise in order to strengthen creative arts based feminist practice through networking and critical engagement, sharing resources, mentorship and support in the Southern African Region. The Hub has a virtual and physical dimensions where it provides space for artists, art teachers, educators, activists and feminists to share ideas, experiences and resources; engage critically around their own and others’ work and generate new knowledge and theories. In 2015 the project was piloted in Zimbabwe in partnership with Katswe Sisterhood. In 2016 it was rolled out to Zambia in partnership with Zambia National Women’s lobby. In 2017 we are taking the project to Botswana.

Train the Trainer:

This is the educational enrichment of women trainers. The project consolidates and expands CDP's innovative art-making training methodologies, in training trainers to use them in their organisations; both community-based and formal education structures. The programme employs Freirian educational tactics that is; it assumes that each participant comes into the space with existing knowledge. The point of departure is that each participant is a contributor who can both learn and teach in the space. The role of the facilitator in this context is to unearth, and create space for, the expression of this existing knowledge and to use it as a point of departure for further learning.

Creative Art in ECD Programmes:

This project encourages the use of waste materials as a way of stimulating creativity and introducing an awareness of using the natural environment. A large part of the workshops are practical, giving the Practitioner an opportunity to explore and develop their own creativity in a non-competitive and non-threatening environment. Art teaches Practitioners to structure an enriched environment in which children engage freely with the activities available, and are encouraged and supported by the practitioner.

Literacy through Arts & Culture in ECD Programmes:

Through stories, songs and rhymes, children are encouraged to express themselves by drawing, painting, singing, movement and discussions. They find ways of dealing with problems and challenges through hearing stories about others who faced and overcame similar challenges. The project also looks at the importance of culture through story books, themed displays, rhymes and songs and sees how it influences the lives of children today. In achieving the above outcomes, we emphasise the importance of home language and second language development and the richness of cultural diversity

Maths and Science through Arts and Culture Programme:

The project encourages learners to learn Maths and Science through artistic skills by exploring mathematical concepts of colour, line, shape, space, shadow, dimension and perspective. Art and Science overlap naturally. Learners therefore explore the world around them, as they observe, experiment and create in the context of their own culture.

Creative Teaching and Learning Programmes:

This project presents a rich compendium of teaching and learning strategies and resources that can be used by Practitioners teaching different age groups. The emphasis is on exciting, inclusive learning experiences, which genuinely engage young children and raise motivation. At the end; practitioners walk away with a huge range of resources made during the workshops ready to be used in the classroom or playground.

Creative Communities Programmes:

This project is aimed at young children and their parents who do not have access to formal early childhood development programmes. Every week an open play programme is set up with stimulating activities for babies and toddlers at a local space. Children and their caregivers are encouraged to participate. This is followed up by home visits to the families of the children. The programme has been successful and we are ready to share our experiences; please contact the CDP for further information.

Gender: Early Socialisation through Art:

Gender is the process through which children learn about the social expectations, attitudes and behaviours typically associated with boys and girls. This programme focuses on the understanding, planning, organising and setting-up of a creative neutral gender learning environment for young children using arts methodologies. The objective of this programme is to raise an awareness of gender equality at a very young age.

Creative Approach to Stimulating Babies and Toddlers:

With this project our objective is to inspire practitioners working with babies and toddlers to see these little people in a different light. In our work with practitioners over the years we have found that the baby and toddler groups in many centres remain under resourced and poorly stimulated. There has recently been an upsurge in training for this age group but CDP has developed some really original and creative methodologies to share with practitioners that will enhance their childcare and teaching practice. During the course they make a variety of toys and teaching resources to use in their Centres and receive a small starter pack with additional resources to support the new ideas and knowledge that they have gained.

Shika Moto Programme:

Shika Moto is an initiative project established to enhance and centralise Early Childhood Development (ECD) parenting programmes through the innovative use of technology. The technology offers free Wi-Fi connectivity to communities that have no or very limited financial funds to purchase data. A local area network, a resource website as well as mobile chat application is used for free within a 1 km Wi-Fi hot spot area for accessibility.

Basic ECD Skills Programme:

This course is aimed at unemployed caregivers of young children. Our ultimate objective is to skill these women to be able to run their own play groups (6 children) in spaces in their community or from their homes. During the course these caregivers make a number of good quality learning and teaching resources and they are provided with a starter pack of art materials and some tools to continue making their own resources which enables them to implement the methodologies they are taught.
The facilitators visit the participants twice during the course, once to provide support and assist where necessary and then again at the end of the course to assess and evaluate the levels of compliance and completion of tasks set during the course in order to award a certificate. The programme is largely hands-on and very practical requiring a high degree of implementation of skills learned in the workshops.

Creative Techniques for Playgroup Leaders:

This programme was developed to enrich the existing knowledge and skills of Playgroup Leaders/Managers. Key components cover in this programme are management skills, planning tools, monitoring, evaluating, assessing and reporting of playgroups. The programme was expanded by exposing playgroup leaders on how to use recyclable materials creatively in their playgroups. The above information shows that the ECD Unit has a good variety of creative and inspiring programmes and we are always willing and able to tailor make programmes to suite the needs of any organisation requiring the kind of creative training we offer.