Will McConnell has always loved the arts, but with working parents and five siblings, it hasn’t always been easy for him to explore and expand on it. Now with one-on-one support he can.
Mum, Raquel said since joining the NDIS just over a year ago, her 21-year-old son, who is non-verbal with Down syndrome and autism, has been able to explore and achieve several artistic milestones without their help and they are hoping it may lead to a career in the arts.
“We chose Interact Australia to provide Will’s supports and he’s coming along in leaps and bounds,” Raquel said.
“Now he attends the Arts Project two days a week – a studio, supporting artists with intellectual disabilities, promoting their work and advocating for their inclusion in contemporary art practice.
“It’s been really good for him to explore and develop as an artist, and it has been really rewarding to see his artwork exhibited regularly in various exhibitions.”
Raquel said one of Will’s strengths is drawing superhero and movie characters like Spiderman, Superman and Darth Vader.
“His drawings are just incredible so one of Will’s support workers, Kristian, talked to us about teaching him how to screen print so they could reproduce his artwork on t-shirts,” Raquel said.
“We thought it was a great idea so we turned our back shed into a creative space so Kristian has been teaching Will how to screen print out there.
“Together they have produced some great work, and Will just loves wearing his t-shirts. Who knows it could become a possible future business Will could explore.
“Kristian also supports Will to safely access the community and they catch public transport to explore art galleries and possible exhibition spaces. Kristian is also looking for supported workplace opportunities for Will.”
Raquel said Will’s other support worker, Shelbui, is also dedicated to supporting Will.
“Shelbui is a practicing artist herself, and she spends time with Will two afternoons a week encouraging him to expand his artistic abilities. They often sit and draw together, visit parks and go for walks to stay fit,” she said.
“The fundamental thing about the NDIS is now we have the freedom to choose support workers who share Will’s interests – people who can support him to expand and explore his abilities, people we know he is going to relate to, who understand his special needs.
“People who can work with his abilities and bring out the best in him at home and in the community. It’s something, as a big family, we have really needed,” Raquel said.