An 11-year-old Point Clare girl is raising funds to ensure that the siblings of people with special needs can access support services on the Central Coast.
Courtney Cottle is a talented young artist and big sister to Harmoni, who has Autism. Growing up as part of her sister’s support network, Courtney has faced challenges other children her age simply can’t comprehend.
Art has always been a passion of Courtney’s and she’s now putting her creativity towards a cause as she prepares to hold a fundraising exhibition at The Entrance Gallery in November. Courtney’s exhibition, ‘the girl’, will be raising funds for the Coastwide Therapy Services’ (CTS) Siblings Program.
The program connects siblings of special needs children with one another, providing them the opportunity to talk about some of the issues they face at home, with other kids dealing with the same challenges. It also focuses on teaching these kids coping mechanisms and other strategies for dealing with feelings of isolation, stress and resentment under the guidance of a psychologist.
In a testament to how valuable the program is, Courtney has run multiple fundraisers to help support it, with her upcoming exhibition the second and larger part of her first ‘the girl’ exhibition, which was held in Point Clare in April. The upcoming exhibition will feature new paintings and sculptural pieces and will act as a multi-media installation where guests are given a sneak peek into the life of ‘the girl’.
Courtney is hoping to raise $5,000 from the exhibition to donate to the CTS and has already raised just under $2,000 from the first exhibition. “The sibling program helped me cope with some big changes in my life after Harmoni was diagnosed, and when I learnt it was stopping, I knew I wanted to help it get back up and running, ” Courtney said.
As part of the exhibition, Courtney and her siblings have also created over 300 rocks which will be hidden around the Coast in the lead up to opening night. The rocks have been decorated with different artworks and have information about ‘the girl’ on them. “Anyone that finds a rock should bring it to the exhibition. “It will help you discover the girl’s secret, ” Courtney said.
The girl’s secret is a hidden phrase that guests will be challenged to guess after viewing the exhibition. Those that guess successfully will have a chance at winning prizes. Courtney said she was hopeful she’d be able to reach her $5,000 target during the exhibition’s month long run and encouraged people to consider visiting the gallery.
“The support would be really appreciated. “We are all going through things and it’s important that we all lift each other up, not bring each other down. “My art is an expression of a time when I felt unsupported and I think many people can relate to that feeling, ” Courtney said. ‘The girl’ will open at The Entrance Gallery at The Entrance Community Centre from 7pm on November 22 and will run until December 21.
Source: Email, Oct 29 Vanessa Cottle, Point Clare Interview, Oct 30 Courtney Cottle, Point Clare Dilon Luke, Journalist