Caption: Natalie feeling happy and confident
“I am thankful to TOUCH for helping Natalie develop her artistic skills all these years. She has even developed her own unique style and art approach.... We are all so proud of her!"
...Mrs K Yap, Natalie’s mother
Natalie is just like any young adult. She enjoys baking, doing sports, strolling on the beach and being around animals. As a foodie, she craves spicy food like curry chicken and Nasi Lemak.
Diagnosed with Down Syndrome, and partial speech and hearing Impairment, the 27-year-old trainee, who joined TOUCH Centre for Independent Living (TCIL) in 2014, also possesses artistic talents. She comes to life whenever she picks up her brush to paint yellow circular and oval objects - the hallmarks of her artwork.
However, this was not the case some 12 years ago. Natalie was then a shy and reserved teenager whose response was mostly monosyllabic. She would rather sit at a corner of her classroom than to take part in activities.
Thankfully, her lifeskills coaches at TCIL never gave up. With their encouragement, Natalie started opening up. Despite the challenges faced, Natalie is now more responsive towards familiar people through her soft spoken voice, facial expressions and gentle gestures. She also enjoys chatting with her family members and spending time with them. Going forward, Natalie will need to continue to learn lifeskills and acquire confidence in daily activities, such as taking public transport and using money.
Caption: Natalie expressing her feelings of hope and joy through art
Caption: Natalie learning to bake at TCIL
Discovering passions and talents
Natalie achieved a breakthrough when she attended art sessions as part of TOUCH SpecialCrafts, a programme under TCIL. Soon, Natalie was not only painting, she was able to apply what she has learnt in terms of colour preference and tones. Her lovely paintings caught the attention of her art coach, who then put her on the Special Artists Programme for trainees with exceptional artistic skills to receive professional training.
In 2020, Natalie joined JOURNEY, a brand under TOUCH Community Services that represents the creative talents of people with intellectual disabilities. She is now able to earn an income through the sale of her art work.
Caption: Using the concept of symmetry, Natalie drew two butterflies in her favourite shades of blue and created a serene meadow in the background.
Caption: Natalie’s exhibit featured at the Hydrangea Holidays exhibition
Caption: Natalie (middle) posing with her family in front of her floral paintings at the Hydrangea Holidays exhibition
It was a source of pride and joy for Natalie’s family when her artwork was displayed at Gardens By The Bay at the Hydrangea Holidays exhibition from June to August 2022, which included a silent auction of the JOURNEY artists’ artworks.
“I am thankful to TOUCH for helping Natalie develop her artistic skills all these years. She has even developed her own unique style and art approach. You can see her excitement whenever she shares her progress with family members. Natalie even used her earnings from her art pieces to buy a dress for her sister’s wedding. We are all so proud of her!,” said Mrs K Yap, Natalie’s mother.
Recently, Natalie surprised everyone when she spontaneously stood in front of her class to thank some volunteers who were leaving.
Natalie is an inspiration to all people with special needs. Everyone Can Be Someone in fulfilling passions and dreams.