Manana Youth Center Fundraises For ‘Sand Animals’ Project


ARMENIA | AUGUST 6, 2013 4:27 PM

By Gabriella Gage

Mirror-Spectator Staff

YEREVAN -The Manana Youth Center is more than your typical afterschool
program – it’s an organization focused on developing the intellectual
and creative talents of youth in Armenia.

The multimedia training organization was founded in 1995 and offers
free classes in animation, filmmaking, journalism and photojournalism.

“Students are educated as artists and critical thinkers, and through
Manana’s classes, they become socially minded citizens speaking for
their generation,” said Emma Nolan-Abrahamian, center volunteer.

Each year, Manana works with up to 100 Yerevan students, ranging in age
from 7 to 16. There are no entrance exams and everyone is encouraged
to participate. In recent years, Manana has expanded beyond Yerevan,
conducting workshops in different regions around Armenia.

Originally from New York, Nolan-Abrahamian came to Armenia with
Birthright Armenia and Armenian Volunteer Corps. She spent from
mid-February to the end of July volunteering with Manana. As a
volunteer, Nolan-Abrahamian said, “I typically spent the morning
preparing for classes, working on the Indiegogo campaign for the Sand
Animals project, organizing student images for Manana’s archives or
working on other short-term projects. I taught two photography classes,
and an English conversation class each week.”

“I also assisted with two workshops outside of Yerevan, in Charensevan
and Gumri,” she recalled.

Since Manana’s founding, the organization has expanded and its students
have created award-winning animations, films and images. One such
creative endeavor is the Sand Animals project. The “sand” refers to
the sand animation stop motion techniques. As part of the project,
students will draw animals on sand to introduce viewers to each letter
of the Armenian alphabet. “The Sand Animals project embodies Manana
Youth Center’s mission of providing youth with quality educational
programming in art, new media and technology,” said Nolan-Abrahamian.

“It’s a great hands-on way for Manana’s students to build their
animation skills, and the finished project is going to look great.”

According to project organizers, Sand Animals has two goals: 1.

Produce a visually engaging education tool to teach children the
Armenian alphabet. 2. Teach Manana Youth Center’s students to create
animated films.

Manana’s animation students will storyboard each Sand Animals
episode, create the animations and edit the short film, learning
sand animation techniques as part of the process. Each episode will
be around 40 seconds. In order to fund the project, Manana recently
held a fundraising campaign.

“The reaction to the project has been really positive so far, and we
have received good feedback,” said Nolan-Abrahamian. “We have raised
$4,257, 53 percent of our goal,” she explained of the fundraising
campaign through Indiegogo.

While campaign officially ended August 6, contributions may
still be made to the Sand Animals project via the website at
and all contributions will be kept
as part of the Sand Animals project’s flexible campaign.

Students are currently working on the first episode of Sand Animals
and will continue their work in the fall.

For more information on Manana Youth Center, visit

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From: Baghdasarian

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