Robinson, 21, says youth need to think outside the box to excel in their field Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Speaking at the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival, paralympic world record holder Eleanor 'Ellie' Robinson said humanity needs "restlessness" to achieve breakthroughs in science and creativity.

The 21-year-old from the UK who suffers from the rare Perthes disease shared her views during a panel discussion at the Festival. She holds the world and the paralympic record in the S6 50m butterfly and the world record in 100m swimming.

When asked about the future for creative students, Robinson, who published her first book - Gold Medal Mysteries: Thief on the Track – 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”.

She added: “The second thing is about expressing. It’s often difficult for many to articulate but using fictional narratives, they find themselves discovering their emotions. 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.”

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Trio talk

Robinson joined Arabic children’s writer Jikar Khorshid and Emirati artist Aysha Saif Al Hamrani in the panel discussion. The trio explored various creative approaches to inspire children to enhance their intellectual abilities during the discussion moderated by radio host Omar Al Duri, drawing examples from their own personal experiences.

Talking about inculcating values of creativity amongst children by making the right connections with them, Aysha 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.”

Khorshid, who writes for children as young as six, said: “[Creative thinking] emphasises creative thinking techniques and highlights the benefits of cultivating creativity in children’s lives and development.”

“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.