Yes You ‘Can’!
A local man with Down’s Syndrome has created a football shield using hundreds of tiny beads to celebrate his beloved Norwich City Football Club and raise awareness of the benefits of using art to promote wellbeing.
Richard, who lives in a supported living service run by national charity, Ambient Support, took many hours to make the piece which features Norwich City’s famous ‘Canary’ and wants to share his love of art to encourage others in the Learning Disability community to take up the hobby.
Richard, who turns 65 in December, has been supported by Ambient since 2009 and has attended a day service three days a week for 15 years at Norfolk and Norwich SEND Association (NANSA). The organisations work in partnership to ensure that Richard’s love of art is nurtured and developed.
Spending up to 18 hours a week working on his art at the day service, it helps Richard’s wellbeing and mental health.
Josie Bennington, Team Leader at Ambient Support, and Richard’s Keyworker, says: “Down’s Syndrome affects people differently. Richard is very healthy, mobile and understands language brilliantly however, he finds it difficult to communicate verbally so will use lots of actions to ensure he is understood.
“Art is extremely therapeutic for Richard. He absolutely loves it and is always busy creating. Our partnership with NANSA ensures that Richard’s passion for art is fully supported and encouraged.
“Richard will bring home one piece a week and he uses his bedroom wall as his canvas to display his work. He creates so much that he needs to store it in his bedroom cupboard and then alternate the pieces as he wishes. We also have his art displayed along the staircase in the house and in the conservatory.
“We also encourage him to create scrapbooks and he’ll spend hours cutting out from newspapers, magazines, colouring books and pictures he’s found on the internet. He has 8 or 9 scrapbooks, all with a different theme including animals, World Wars and of course, football.”
Richard is a passionate Norwich City Football Club fan. Pre-Covid he attended many games at Carrow Road Stadium and went along to several ‘Jamie’s Game’ celebrity events where he met a few famous faces.
Josie continues: “Art is instrumental to Richard’s wellbeing- it keeps him very busy and he’s really very good at it, some of his works are amazing and extremely intricate. But his love of football also makes him very happy. Richard watches avidly on television and always has great optimism for a Norwich win- his passion is infectious!”
Josie concludes: “What better time to shine a light on Richard’s artistic achievements than in Down’s Syndrome Awareness Month this October, which is recognised across the world, and celebrates each individual and tackles stereotypes and myths surrounding the syndrome.”
Find out about Ambient’s Supported Living Service in Norfolk, HERE.