New kid on the block fires the imagination
PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins used his first official engagement with Ireland's youth to suggest they lay off TV and video games, and embrace their imaginations instead.
The poet and arts champion, who was a guest at children's cultural centre the Ark in Dublin's Temple Bar, said being imaginative and creative would open children up to greater opportunities in the future and help them grow into more active citizens.
"We must encourage all citizens, particularly children, to, as Raymond Williams put it, 'Be the arrow, not the target'," Mr Higgins said.
His visit to the Ark, which holds drama, dance and art workshops for children, was his first official engagement with youngsters since his inauguration on November 11.
During his campaign, Mr Higgins pledged to champion the arts and to help bring in more related jobs.
The 70-year-old also stressed the importance of Ireland's youth. "Many of The Ark's productions are brave and daring, stretching the imagination to its very boundaries," Mr Higgins said.
"This allows children to liberate their vivid and creative imagination and to freely follow their thoughts and ideas to wherever they may lead. What a wonderful start in life to give a child and what a world of opportunities it opens up to them."
Ark director Eina McHugh said it was "wonderfully symbolic" that Mr Higgins chose to give "one of his first recognitions of importance" to cultural work for children and young people.