After a term of hard work and dedication, 21 young people in Mission Australia’s Creative Youth Initiative Artworks! program displayed their talents for friends, family and the community to see. Two of the young people – Ryan and Sophia – shared their journeys with us. 

Ryan says the program and our support staff have been an essential part of his recovery from serious mental health issues:

“I think it started during high school. I don’t know, high school just wasn’t for me. The workload was too much and I wasn’t treated the greatest at school. That affected my home life, and it started making me go a bit crazy. I left school when I was doing the equivalent of Year 10. It took the workload off, but not all the problems that were still affecting me. I remember one day a counsellor asked me ‘Are you okay?’ and I just broke down.

“I first came to the course a few years ago when I was recommended by my psychiatrist, and it changed me entirely. I fell in love with it. I came back again and did the music course the next year then came back and did the art course again.

“It’s helped me immensely. It’s really kept me on my straight path to what I want to do in life. I love the environment here, especially the teachers. They’re brilliant, and I couldn’t do it without them.

“[A few months ago] I got work doing clothing retail so I didn’t get to do as much art as I would have liked, but next year I’m going to make sure that I’m doing a lot more art, that’s my goal.”

Ryan had this message for the people who donate to Mission Australia: “Your money is definitely going to something great. A lot of young people come out of this program and just become amazing. If I had the money myself, I would definitely donate to this course. I’ve made a lot of friends out of this, long-term friends.”

Sophia shared with us how being involved with the Mission Australia program has changed her life this year:

“After I graduated high school I was very depressed. My only hobby was art, but even then because of my depression I stopped doing art. I lost the artistic side of me for about four years. I really wanted to start doing art again but I was very fearful and had very low self-esteem. Luckily my therapist had one of her patients come to this program before and she said it really helps to elevate self-esteem and it’s a great way to meet people and be productive. So I said yes.

“I started this year in February and it’s been amazing. The teachers are really encouraging and supportive, and even when I lost confidence in myself, they pushed me to my full potential. I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish the things I have without them. I’m very grateful to everyone at Mission Australia.

“I feel like a different person now, honestly. I was very anti-social and secluded and didn’t really have any friends or anything that I liked to do. Coming here gave me purpose and it changed my outlook on life. I used to be very pessimistic and not very open. I feel a lot more grounded now.”

On her plans for the future: “I’m thinking about pursuing art seriously. That’s probably what I’m going to try to do.”

On having people purchase her art: “It’s incredible! I honestly would not have thought people would want to buy my things. I’ve never entertained the idea that people would want things created by me. It’s just crazy.”

To the people who donate money to Mission Australia: “A big thank you! Everyone that is willing to be involved in such a kind, charitable act really just deserves everything. It’s a real blessing.”

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