At the age of seven Camp Simcha introduced me to Belinda who specialised in therapeutic art! Together, we have spent the past 10 years exploring many types of art and other creative projects together. Belinda managed to balance artistic expression with providing a compassionate and safe space for me to open up about everything I have gone through.

I still remember opening the door and meeting Belinda, she was holding a bunch of flowers for us to press and turn into adorable floral cards. We hit it off instantly and embarked on a decade of exciting projects allowing us to bond over our love of art. One project, in particular, that is very special to me is a mural we painted in my back garden. Having already painted a mural on my bedroom wall of a giant rainbow, Belinda somehow managed to convince my mum to let us have a go at painting a brick wall in our garden. We spent many weeks painting an adorable bench and river scene with a range of brightly coloured acrylic paints. Belinda, always wanting to go the extra mile, even asked a professional artist she knew to help us touch it up at the end.

Over the years, Belinda has come to do art sessions with me in hospital as well! I loved her visits as they really would brighten up what would otherwise be a very boring situation. Belinda would bring activities for me to do from my bed to distract me from whatever treatments I was having or the post-op pain I was experiencing. Sometimes, when I was not strong enough to do activities, Belinda would just sit and chat with me or with my family who she had also grown close with over the years. During Covid, met on FaceTime for sessions instead!

Belinda’s outgoing and chatty nature helped me to come out of my shell. As a child, I had been experiencing a form of selective mutism and being able to chat to Belinda in a natural way while we did our art, about what I was going through and how I felt about my extremely disruptive hospital schedule was incredibly valuable to me. I found it so much easier to open up while doing an informal and calming art-related activity. This is because it took the focus away from the issue I was discussing and created an easy environment for me to bring up whatever was on my mind. Sometimes, adjusting from hospital to school could be tricky for me emotionally and chatting about this with Belinda was really helpful! I found it hard to express myself to my friends as they did not have any relatable experiences to understand what I was going through.

Another insane project Belinda and I worked on together was when we painted a series of canvasses depicting inspirational single words. Together we created five canvasses, each one with a unique design. For example, we experimented with Polyfilla to create a 3D effect and tested different colour pallets, my favourite being a lovely gold, brown and silver combination that Belinda and I spent ages perfecting. I donated a painting showing the word ‘Faith’ to an auction at a boxing event with proceeds going to Camp Simcha. As two people were keen to bid on my painting, I created a dolphin focused Under The Water theme canvas for the gentleman who was outbid. I also donated a painting of the word ‘Faith’ to an auction at a Camp Simcha Ladies Lunch and later on Camp Simcha commissioned me to paint two canvasses to be used as thank you gifts. Belinda and I had a lot of fun creating each of these canvasses.

Belinda was an integral part of my life and my family and I am so grateful for all the time she has spent with me over the years.