Creative ways of using the NDIS
Article from Summer 2019 edition of Intouch Magazine

From cave drawings made with dirt and water dating back millennia to the frescoed cathedrals of the Renaissance, it’s clear that creativity has always been an intrinsic part of what it means to be human. Hence, it’s not surprising to learn that making art can help people find relief from feelings of depression, anxiety and isolation, as studies have shown time and time again.

Given the known benefits of making art, the NDIS covers art classes in its plans, which is great news for those of us who are interested in exploring our creative side. We were curious to know what people living with MS say about the impact that making art has had on their lives. To this end, we paid a visit to an art class and spoke to some participants who live with MS and take art classes through their NDIS plans. Here’s what they had to say.

Elizabeth Partington 
Elizabeth Partington“The first day I came here I was welcomed, and I thought it was great. I can talk to people who have MS and we can discuss what we’re up to and we learn what people’s medications are, so we have a better idea of what’s around. It’s a good opportunity to network. Before I started here, I was very depressed. Now I go - ‘oh yes! I’m out and about on Tuesdays,’ and it’s good fun.”

“I never had an interest in art. Didn’t think I was capable of drawing a picture at all and I’ve been amazed at what I’ve been able to do. In the art exhibition last year, I sold a painting. I did not think that was possible. I was over the moon with that. That was a real proud moment. It’s great for the ego. It’s great for confidence, and depression of course. So, it’s brightened me up.”

“Without the NDIS, I wouldn’t have been able to do the art classes. I’ve been very fortunate. And if there’s something I need, I know I can speak to someone here at MS.”

Luke Gaetano 
Luke Gaetano“I just love coming here. The group, the people are fantastic. I never thought I could do it. I was born right-handed, now I can’t use my right hand anymore, so I do everything with my left hand now and that in itself is a feat.”

“I find that the more you get into it the more you want to do it. Artwork…explains, describes so much how you feel. You can express yourself in different ways and artwork allows you to do that. I enjoy coming here because It’s a good crowd of people, it allows us to communicate with other people who are in the same boat. I love the artwork. I love expressing myself through that. Now I do it at home too. It’s fantastic. I just love it.” 
“The first year that I participated in an exhibition here, I won first prize. And I didn’t expect to win. I mean I didn’t enter it to win, but it’s good to get that recognition from your peers and that kept me going. And then the second year…I got a high distinction. Again, I didn’t expect to win it. And this year I got the Packing Room Prize, which is like the people’s choice award at the art exhibition here (at MS), and that was good.”

“I also entered the Victorian Public Sector, and the theme was to incorporate people with disabilities in the workforce. Four weeks later I got a phone call, I won! I didn’t really expect to win. It was like a sunrise coming up at the back of these people so all you saw was silhouettes and they were all holding hands and people in wheelchairs and with canes and what have you and they were all holding hands and I said, this is a new dawn.”

Antonella Rizio
antonella“The art classes have brought out my creativity. I wasn’t very good at art in school. It’s an opportunity to do some work and I feel like I’m getting better at it. The positive feedback is good for my self- esteem and I take the constructive criticism on board.”

 “I find it rewarding. I’m able to express myself. Sometimes it can be a little bit challenging. Sometimes I find it difficult to do something or I don’t feel like doing it. I have good days and bad days. Sometimes I don’t feel like going to the class, but I push myself to go and once I’m here it’s fine. It still feels good to have gone.”

“I’m able to learn different skills, use different techniques and experiment with different mediums such as water colour, soft pastels or oil pastels. I’m able to express myself and socialise with other people. Going to art classes breaks up the routine, gives me a chance to go out, and I’ve made lots of friends here.”

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