Photographs taken by children with serious health needs displayed at prestigious Christie’s Art Auction
Children and young people supported by WellChild submitted their entries to a photography competition entitled ‘My Life Through a Lens’. The entrants were asked to use photography skills and artistic flare to explain their life and tell their story from their own perspective. The competition was aimed at shining a light on the reality of life for young people living with serious health needs or disability.
Ten photos were selected by a panel of judges, which included world renowned photographers Rankin and John Swannell, WellChild Ambassador Gaby Roslin, WellChild Trustee and owner of Venture Photography Nick Fisher, Creative Director Chris Westbrook and WellChild Parent Ambassador and Trustee Leanne Cooper. The ten finalists had their photographs displayed at the 2019 WellChild Awards, where the Duke and Duchess of Sussex were able to admire the entries, and at the WellChild Helping Hands Art Auction at Christie’s. The top three photos were also included in the silent auction, with the winning photo entitled ‘Resuscitation’ by Jack, selling for £750.
Jack, 13yrs, Doncaster
This photo is of the chandelier in our living room and when Jack is on the floor having life saving interventions this is the view of what he sees. It looks like a star shining bright just like Jack and a beacon of hope. This can be seen as an inspiration to us during difficult times.
It is beautiful how the light spreads out and lights up the darkness surrounding it, light being life and darkness being death and the fine barrier between them both. Jack has multiple severe complex medical needs, which are life limiting. He has had three cardiac arrests in his short life so resuscitation is sadly something that is all too familiar for Jack.
Samuel, 11yrs, Hampshire
DROWNING ON DRY LAND
When my mum told me about the photo competition i didn’t know what to do. We sat down and thought of lots of ideas but decided that my lungs are the worst part of my illnesses. We spoke about my meds and physio and what happens if I don’t take them or don’t do my physio three times a day. I said it feels like my lungs have water on them, like if I swallowed a load of water and it went onto my lungs instead of into my tummy.
We then spoke about how we could show this in a picture which was really hard but after a while we came up with an underwater shot in the hot tub (which I liked as I got to play too). We grabbed my go-pro and off we went. I decided to do the peace sign and smile as being poorly isn’t sad.
Curtis, 12yrs, Cornwall
LISTEN WITH YOUR EYES, NOT JUST YOUR EARS
My name is Curtis, I am deaf-blind and non-verbal. That does not mean I have nothing to say. Slow down a little, take my hand and I will let you into my world. I talk with my hands not my mouth, show me your hands … let’s chat.
Angelique, 17yrs, Cheshire
INSOLES IN MY SHOES / STRUGGLES TO WALK
I have spastic diplegic cerebral palsy and have difficulty walking. I use a wheelchair sometimes. I go to a special school and have had a lot of operations of my feet and an SDR on my spine to help me walk and to alleviate my pain. I’ve done specialist physiotherapy since I was 9 months old, attended Stick ‘n’ Step for 16 years (a conductive education charity), to help me walk and be independent. My orthopaedic surgeon is 2018 WellChild Award Winner Mr Bass (Alder Hey) and my spinal surgeon is Ms Pettorini (Alder Hey). They are amazing!
I wear thick, heavy shoes to help me walk and specially adapted insoles to support my feet and my balance. My toes get stiff and tense and I put lots of pressure on the insole, often making a hole in it. They get hot and
uncomfortable. My shoe insoles represent the effort I put into life and the help and support I’m given by my family and the medical profession. I’m determined to succeed!
Dakota, 6yrs, Somerset
Ethan (Dakota’s older brother) is in his hoist sling. This is used to put him anywhere. I like spinning him around because he likes it. I love my big brother because he likes it when I play with him. I like playing with him too.
George, 9yrs, Prestatyn
Despite the greatest challenges George has never given up, he has been through so much and never ever moans and always tries his best. This photo represents the strength he has always shown throughout his life. ‘I met a boy whose eyes showed me that the past, present and future were all the same thing’.
Dylan, 12yrs, Merseyside
OUT OF DARKNESS
I am 12 years old and have Cerebral Palsy, cortical blindness, global development delay, epilepsy and scoliosis to
name a few of my conditions. But I am Dylan!
Mummy helped me hold the camera and I pressed the button because butterflies grow in the darkness from a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly.
When you have lots of friends with medical conditions the sad thing is unlike healthy children everyday life means my friends sometimes die, I also had a baby foster brother who was a poorly baby who died at a few months old. This last couple of weeks some children we know grew their wings. But mummy tells me like the butterfly we all have dark times but we are all beautiful like the butterfly and will fly high and proud.
Myles, 20yrs, Nottingham
THROUGH MY BARRIERS
As a young person with disabilities, I feel my life is a constant battle with ‘barriers’. These are not only the obvious physical barriers like the one you can see in my photograph; having to peep through the railings to see the animals because I can’t just get out of my wheelchair and stand up to see inside; but emotional and social barriers too.
Social isolation is a huge problem for young people with health needs. We are excluded from so many things, activities, parties and gatherings; just like the lonely lion in my photo, looking out at the rest of the beautiful, colourful and exciting world but not quite able to be part of it. This is so saddening and frustrating. Can you imagine how it feels to have all your friends go out but you don’t even get invited as there are no drop kerbs, steps to get inside or accessible changing facilities?
Accessibility is something I’m extremely passionate about, I believe everywhere should be made wheelchair accessible. How is it fair that there’s so much beauty in our world, but only certain people can get to see it?
Noah, 8yrs, Huddersfield
ME AND THE MINER
This photo is of me and the miner who took us down the pit at the National Coal Mining Museum.
I love going there.
l love to go on all sorts of adventures.
l love exploring new places and new things.
Note from Noah’s Mum on the impact of good training and how it has made trips like this possible – Stepping out of the ‘cage’ down the pit after descending to 140m, surrounded by coal and with just a head torch for light, I realised how far I had come as a parent who may potentially need to perform life saving action in these surroundings. An ambulance would not be able to access us at all down there however I had all the emergency equipment and I had been trained to the highest standard and I also had an excited son who wanted to do what all the other kids did and so I felt confident to carry on and enjoy our day.
Ollie, 6yrs, Leicester
Ollie’s sister Lily had very complex health needs. She died in May. Ollie is trying to come to terms with where she has ‘gone’. He is working with a bereavement therapist and a suggestion was a washing line timeline showing before and after Lily’s death. This is the reality of his life at the moment.
All the entries above have been submitted by children who have received support from WellChild. These families are members of the WellChild Family Tree network which enables parents and carers to get support from one another and share their journeys. The WellChild Family Tree helps parents to feel included, supported and listened to.