Happy art

Here’s something that raised a smile – if you watch one teeny thing today (it’s 48 seconds long), please make it this fabulous mini-montage of Joe Long’s happy drawings set perfectly to a priceless tune.

Joe, 18, has fragile x syndrome, the same condition as my sister Raana, and is at the Sheiling School in the New Forest, next door to the Camphill Lantern Community which my sister is at. A big part of Sheiling and the Lantern is creative expression, which Joe clearly has in bucket loads.

Next week is Learning Disability Week, which will focus on hate crime. That I’m sharing Joe’s feel good film here is not to pretend that people like my sister and Joe aren’t on the receiving end of some of the worst misunderstanding in society, from sideways glances to outright physical and verbal abuse and discrimination – this is what next’s week’s awareness campaign hopes to tackle.

I’m sharing it because it’s infectiously positive, reminds me of my sister’s own drawings at that age and reveals Joe’s upbeat personality as well as reflecting the abilities of young people with disabilities.

And, of course, it simply made me smile.

Joe’s father Adam says his son, who was 13 when he did these drawings, was always proud to show off his art to “anyone and everyone”, so the family decided to post some of his best sketches on YouTube where they’d reach a wider audience.

Adam says the sketches show Joe’s family (including his parents and sister Tilly) as well as “himself, our cat Monty, and some animal with lines coming out of its mouth…possibly our guinea pig, don’t know for sure…Looking at the drawings always made me smile”

Joe’s thriving and happy at Sheiling, says Adam: “He’s got a lot of friends, he’s learning, becoming more independent, and we’re very proud of him.”

Joe, for your happy artistry and for creating this feel good Friday post, we salute you.

About Saba Salman

Saba Salman is a social affairs journalist, commissioning editor and a regular contributor to The Guardian. She also manages the blog for the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group, an umbrella body for third sector providers of social care.
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