Where there’s a Will School Art Prize painting a bright future for local students

TEAMWORK: Tia Gabriellah, Tammy Selwood, Di James and Pauline Carrigan pull together for children's education.
TEAMWORK: Tia Gabriellah, Tammy Selwood, Di James and Pauline Carrigan pull together for children's education.

THE inaugural Where there’s a Will School Art Prize is painting a bright future for local students.

Committee members starting adjudicating the competition at the Muswellbrook Library on Wednesday, which featured works from several schools in the region.

While there were judges on hand to determine which piece of art was most deserving of the top prize, the focus was more about the art’s meaning.

The Upper Hunter-based organisation has recently been running a program to help children understand who they are as a person and how they can develop their strengths and improve the traits they’re not as advanced in.

WTAW founder Pauline Carrigan said it’s important to identify these things at a young age to help kids become the best person they can, in and outside the classroom.

“You might be leadership, teamwork, you might have great perseverance, kindness and love, we usually have five traits out of the 24,” she said.

“When you start kindergarten you work out why you do the things you do, and your strengths drive who you become.”

She said in years gone by, people who were more focused on sport and extracurricular activities were demonised in the classroom for not paying attention.

But, under this model, their best attributes are celebrated, which leads to their lesser features being nourished.

Students were encouraged to incorporate this into their art, with the two best pieces from every school being assessed by the judges.

Di James from Embrace Virtues, Tammy Selwood of Ideation Group and local artist Tia Gabriellah were the adjudicators.

And, Ms James gave an insight into what they were seeking.

“I’m looking for how the students have displayed their various character strengths in their artwork, such as resilience, love, generosity, compassion, those sorts of qualities,” she said.

She believes the program is a fantastic initiative and can have a substantial impact on all children involved.

“What we’re doing with the character strengths work is really transforming the kids’ brains and developing them,” she said.

“I believe so profoundly that character strength education is critical for the health of our whole community and I believe it should be start as early as birth and be incorporated into every aspect of the school curriculum.”

While the competition is about so much more than just the art, the winner will still be pleased given a $200 art voucher is available for first place.

All will be revealed on November 14.

The winning art piece is to be auctioned at the inaugural Where there’s a Will Rainbow Ball on Saturday, November 17.

Tickets for the event are still available.

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