Young woman with Down syndrome makes positive change with art
Published Friday, July 12, 2019 11:51AM PDT
Last Updated Friday, July 12, 2019 11:54AM PDT
Aviv walks into her kitchen and points to a photograph of a little girl on the fridge. "Who's that?" I ask.
"Me!" Aviv answers with a big smile and points.
The picture shows Aviv sitting in a cupboard about three years after she was born with Down syndrome. She is smiling proudly at the colourful scribbles all over the inside of the door. "She's really just had a desire to and obsession to draw happy things," her mom Michele says.
Michele says her daughter spent a lot of time being creative as a child, but wanted to be a police officer when she grew up. Aviv shows me a photograph of her sitting in the driver seat of a Central Saanich Police car. Although she struggles to speak, Aviv hold up the picture and proclaims a joyful, "Yes!"
"She saw police as heroes," Michele explains. "A person who saves people."
When Aviv's physical obstacles made becoming a real police officer a challenge, she came up with a solution: casting herself as a fictional cop.
Aviv wrote and directed a play where she saves the day and catches the criminal. A video of the performance also shows Aviv inspiring the villain to change her ways. "She reaches out to the bad guys," Michele explains the point of the play. "And makes them good."
The criminal, who's shown turning good by a large, paper heart unfolding to cover her chest, was played by Aviv's tutor, Jennifer. "She seems very shy," Jennifer says of Aviv. "But she's full of life and ideas."
Aviv also refuses to give up. Although living with cerebral palsy makes doing needlepoint a challenge, she spends two hours a day creating bold images with bright thread. When I ask what she likes to make, Aviv holds up the vibrant bumble bee she's creating and with an eruption of joy says, "Happy!"
"She's coming into her power as an artist," Jennifer says. Aviv's tutor is sitting in Victoria's Spiral Café, where she helped her client secure her first solo art show.
It features dozens of Aviv's bold paintings and bright needlework, filling the wall from floor to ceiling. It's a remarkable experience to view the exhibit and have so many flowers, rainbows, and sunny faces smiling back at you.
I ask Aviv what she thought about seeing her art show for the first time. "Excited!" bursts from her beaming face.
She couldn't be more excited. The seeds that Aviv started planting for herself while scribbling inside the cupboard door as a child are finally blooming, now that she's a professional artist. "She wants to be the power for positive change," Jennifer says.
But what about the goal she thought she could realize as police officer? What about saving people? Transforming bad into good?
Aviv answers by grabbing a bright pink heart that she made. With a beaming smiling she holds it right up to the camera lens and proclaims, "Yes!"
It seems that Aviv is realizing her goal of "making the world a better place" by reminding us to reconnect with the good in our hearts.