Why is Art so Important to our Children?

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Sarah Gordy, Tazia Fawley, Lester Magoogan, Janine Beatson, Rachel Handlin, Josie Webster,  John Groarke, Tommy Kemp, Dominic Bennett, Katie Rickersey, Joshephine Goddard, Robert Dixon, Amy Ellison, Anthony Childs, Fiona Stevenson, Christopher Lodge, John Kelting, Fionn Crombie Angus, Lauren Potter, Chris Burke, Tommy Jessop, Paula Sage, Pablo Pineda, Steven Brandon, Liam Bairstow, Hannah Sampson, Sujeet Desai.

There are many, many more names I could have added to this list and it is the most exciting list of names that I have ever written. Every person on this list has something in common, something that makes them stand out. Down syndrome? Yes, they all have Down syndrome, but that isn’t what I am talking about. That isn’t what’s important here. What they all have in common is talent, they all have an amazing talent. All of these people are artists, wonderfully talented artists, producing great work and achieving amazing things. And I don’t mean in an ‘oh look at that lovely piece of art by a person with Down syndrome, how lovely”. I mean talented regardless of any diagnosis. I mean talented and creative regardless of any label, regardless of anything other than the fact that they are gifted. An extra chromosome or no extra chromosome, these men and women have a gift. They are painters, photographers, dancers, actors, singers, musicians, designers. They are fabulous!

I started writing this with the intention of writing an article on the importance of art for children with Down syndrome, but it has turned into so much more than that. I have just found it so incredibly interesting and uplifting, and now I’m actually going to write a whole bunch of them. I’m going to write about the benefits, various artists with Down syndrome and various organizations that support their talents. As a mother of a child with Down syndrome I need to see inspirations like these people. I need to see that there is hope and I need to see that my son’s future can be just as bright

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You may not be aware but art has a huge place in our family. We have an art business with 3 stores, creating our own work and working with many incredible African artists and craftsmen. Art is just what we do. It’s what we are good at and it’s what we love.

It has always been important to us that we introduced our children to art at a young age, but it became even more so following River’s diagnosis. I saw art as a way of him being able to express himself, a way for him to have a passion, to have a talent and to have a future career. I saw art as a way for him to be able to show people that he is so much more than just Down syndrome, that he is so much more than his label. I feel very blessed that our own careers will be able to provide him with that, providing that’s what he chooses of course. Although, I can’t lie, this Mama is pushing it haha!

Seriously though, River is only 2 but loves picking up a pencil and drawing. And he has one amazing pincher grip! Maybe I’m clutching at straws, but I see a sparkle in Rivers eyes every time I get his art things out, he gets genuinely excited. Although granted, it could very well be that he just really loves making a mess!

Art is so important to people with learning disabilities. It’s actually important to everyone, but for people with Down syndrome it is even more so. It’s a way of feeling and a way of expressing those feelings, it’s a way of communicating and it’s also relaxing and fun. With art you can just be whoever you want to be and you can create whatever you want to create. There are no rules, no limits, no good or bad and no right or wrong. Paint, sing, dance, take photographs, draw, sew, design, make jewelry, play music. If a person can find that thing that helps them express themselves, it’s a way of showing people who they really are. There are so many obstacles in the way of our children in regards to their futures, finding jobs being a major one. But helping them to find their talent and their passion and nurturing it, is a way of showing them their worth. Even if they have don’t have what people would call a ‘regular’ job, they can still have something they take pride in and something that they can do just for themselves. And who knows what the future holds when you find something that you love and have the support of people who are closest to you.

So find out what your child enjoys and nurture it. Try different things and find out what their passion is, what they enjoy and what they are good at. In fact, even if they’re not very good at it at all! Who cares?! Let them draw a horse that looks like a fish, let them sing like a strangled cat, let them dance with no rhythm and let them take a thousand photos of the dog. Because to them it will be something and your support will be more relevant than you will ever know. And who knows, you may just unleash an exceptional talent.

A genuine thanks to every young artist out there with Down syndrome, who is  just doing their thing and paving the way for children like River.  I hope you know the difference you are making.

To be continued……………

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