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When words are not enough

Children belong in families,
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When words are not enough

How can we express ourselves?

This is the most common question we ask when working with young people, children and self-advocates to help them share their thoughts and opinions.

Many of the young people we work with have experienced trauma or live in complicated situations, often connected with living in care without their families. It can be very challenging for them to control their feelings and they can often feel overwhelmed. As Child Protection Officers at Lumos, part of the work we do is to support young people to express themselves in a healthy, positive way to explore themselves and connect to others.

What do you do when words are not enough?

Words are not always easy. This is why we use a wide range of techniques taken from expressive arts to provide a safe and gentle way to help young people share their thoughts and emotions using imagination and creativity. The young people might prefer music, dance, drama, visual arts or creative writing, and we’ve tried several techniques to encourage self-exploration and self-expression. We helped young people create stop motion animations to present their feelings about institutions. And we created a performance to show the contrast between a child’s life at home and a child’s life in an institution, helping the young people use shadow-puppetry and moving images to express their opinions.

Watch Czech self-advocates perform their own piece of theatre, Knock, Knock, Anyone Home?


“Theatre is the best way for children to share their opinions, what they think. It is easier than just standing up and saying ‘this is what we think'. It's more playful and helps them express themselves using symbols.” Ingrid, Lumos Child Participation Officer

Using these different approaches helps young people to understand themselves and their lives. They can often find a new window or view into themselves by tapping into their creative and imaginative side. 

“Working with young people at Lumos is like planting seeds. You pick up some unknown seeds, put them into the earth and you have to take care of them. Water them enough, give them some space and sun, and somehow still be around for them. If you believe in their potential, they can become real plants. Suddenly you are surprised what unique and varied blooming flowers full of different colours you have.” ZlatkaLumos Child Participation Officer