Phoebe's love for art isn't just about colours on a canvas. For 10-year-old Phoebe, art has become a powerful tool to connect with others and express herself in ways that words can’t capture.

Living with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Phoebe’s world often felt like a puzzle with missing pieces. But through strokes of her paint brush, she’s found a way to connect.

“I have just always loved art, it helps me calm down and lets me relax,” says Phoebe. “My mum encourages me; she loves my creations and puts them up at her work.”

What began as an after-school hobby has become more than just a hobby for Phoebe - it feels like a form of therapy. 

Finding meaning through art 

Mission Australia NDIS Local Area Coordinator Deborah Harding has worked with Phoebe for the last three years. Deborah has stood by Phoebe’s side, helping the family navigate the NDIS, including building a plan and linking them to services and providing referrals.

“It is through this referral process that Phoebe was encouraged to try social art opportunity,” says Deborah.

“The program provides a meaningful, creative, social and sensory outlet.”

Through art, Phoebe has learned to navigate the complexities of her emotions and communicate with the world around her.

Phoebe and her mum

She now urges other young people living with a disability to have a go at art. 
"Well, because I have autism it makes me able to think in my head all these unique character creations. I just love making art in all ways - paper, iPad, paint or crafts. I want to inspire others to make their own funny characters, just like I have.” - Phoebe 

The Confidence to thrive 

For Phoebe, art has been an influential medium, giving her the confidence to pursue a creative career in the future.

During the last two years at the NDIS-funded Creative Soul Session, Phoebe’s art has developed significantly and recently won the 2023 National Junior Australian Art Award at the Young Australian Art & Writers’ Awards for her digital piece ‘Kreea, The Ghost Girl’.

Phoebe's art

When she was told about the award, Phoebe described the moment “like my heart was stepping on a Lego brick.”

“I felt very excited, but kind of nervous,” she added. “When mum told me the news that I had won, we were jumping all over the place! We were very happy, I even got to stand up at an assembly and tell everyone in my school.

Deborah is proud of Phoebe’s achievements.

"It has been so pleasing to see Phoebe attain such a prestigious award. She has overcome personal challenges and stepped into a world of possibilities."

As part of the prize, Phoebe enjoyed a chance to visit Melbourne with her mum on an all-expenses paid trip to receive the award. The award has further encouraged Phoebe to pursue a career in art.

What started as an after-school art program has now blossomed into a world of possibilities.

“I would love to make cartoons on TV,” she said.

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