Ability Links Smart Art Includes You Challenge receives support for inclusive message

WHAT does inclusion mean to you?

That was the question posed to more than 1000 students across the Hunter and Central Coast in an art competition designed to spark a conversation about the nine-letter word.

Organised by disability support group Ability Links, the challenge triggered a wave of interest that saw rap songs, videos, paintings, drawings and sculptures entered for the inaugural exhibit.

The winning Newcastle schools were the Hunter School of Performing Arts and Cooks Hill Campus.

Cooks Hill Campus teacher Sheri Bird said her students did not know what the word “inclusion” meant.

Many Cooks Hill Campus students have arrived from previous schools where they have been victims of bullying.

“It opened up a whole can of worms,” Ms Bird said.

Youth worker Shane Kennedy said the competition was a “great platform” for kids.

“Hip hop is a great platform to tell the story of inclusivity – words become sentences, which

become paragraphs, which turns into a story,” Kennedy said.

“By acknowledging every student’s story, we role model inclusion.”

For exhibition details: smartchallenge.com