Smiles4Miles

Be Kind by Jelly J Artist for Smiles4Miles

Back in May I entered my artwork for the new Smiles4Miles graffiti colouring book for kids and I was not expecting to get the most votes at all so it came as a wonderful surprise!

The theme for the colouring book was ‘a better world’. I represented this as an ethereal fairy character which had featured previously in my street art. She is sat on a rainbow of hope and brighter days ahead, juxaposed to the phrase ‘Be Kind’ in graffiti. I truly believe ‘Be Kind’ is the most important social skill we can teach children. It encourages empathy and hopefully the confidence to call out inequality when they see it, which surely leads to a better world and future for all.

Proceeds from the colouring books will go to the Teapot Trust who provide art therapy for chronically ill children. After winning the most votes I discovered the Teapot Trust was founded to help children in Rheumatology Units in hospital. By complete coincidence or synchronicity, since childhood I have had Rheumatoid Arthritis, POTS and Ehlers Danlos which are degenerative autoimmune immune conditions. I then messaged Pixie the founder of Smiles4Miles to tell her the coincidence. She then shared that she also has Ehlers Danlos! So synchronicity it is!

I’m so pleased my artwork is going to such a worthy cause. My memories of hospital as a child was a very adult environment; quiet long dark wooden corridors and everyone looked depressed. Coping with not just the physicality, but the emotional and social implications of degenerative illnesses is traumatic. Something like the art therapy the Teapot Trust provide would have helped greatly. Such activities would also provide support and bonding with other kids who can relate. Even though I had a lot of friends, I felt very alone and scared until the age of 20 when I by chance met a group of life long friends at hospital.

I’m looking forward to seeing the colouring book in print, it features an array of other amazing graffiti and street artists work too. I’ve done a couple of talks at schools and children are so receptive to artwork. Their creativity and enthusiasm is high and the possibilities are endless! It’s just such a shame there have been so many cuts to the arts in education, which is failing kids. I would also love at some point to see the work the Teapot Trust do first hand and meet some of the kids! Anyway hope you like the artwork, I will post on here again when the colouring books are out!

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