Charndra was an art teacher for 12 years in South Australia before having children.
She is a carer to her 13-year-old son who has autism and severe Developmental Language Disorder (DLD).
Due to the demands of her caring role, she had to resign from classroom teaching.
“Before having children, I was an art teacher. I had three kids, and my second child has had special needs since birth.”
Charndra began working casually at her children’s primary school outside school hours care (OSHC) and Vacation Care, discovering that having the kids work together on group projects was very exciting to them.
She had been doing this since 2017, with pre-schoolers, primary kids, adults and seniors.
It was so rewarding for her to watch the joy and thrill people experienced that she began dreaming of making it a small business.
“I had been painting with the kids at school each term holidays.”
“One exciting new project was a collaboration between the school and the local retirement community.”
“But then the world shut down.”
During the first lockdown, Charndra started a realistic oil painting course.
“Through our local Carer Support group, I started vocational coaching that was also offered at this time. “
We had 1:1 support which was awesome. I registered my business as ‘Painting Around’ and I started doing murals as we came out of the main lockdowns.”
“Coaching helped me set my goals and cut through the thousands of things that I could do.”
As she was trying to think of possible ways to get back into the workforce, she learned about Your Caring Way. She then joined the program in July last year.
“When I joined the program, I started working on goals for my business with the support of regular check-ins to answer questions, consider ideas and try out new options.”
“Your Caring Way helped me pursue my business ideas with a friendly support and regular boost of confidence, something I really needed in these early stages in particular”.
“This program is specifically for carers. We spend a lot of our time advocating for our children. In a regular job you’d be rewarded for that and have benefits from the amount of effort you put in.”
“When you’re a parent carer it’s unpaid, you always work, and you often feel like you achieve nothing. It crushes you often.”
“My mental health suffered through the battles of being a parent carer. I just needed that reassurance; someone to tell me I could do this.”
“It was motivating and encouraging to be told that I’m on the right track in this new endeavour, the idea of running my own business has become something exciting rather than something that seemed impossible. It’s a valuable help.”
“When I went with Your Caring Way, we started working out the next steps, refining what I was doing and coming up with some new ideas.”
“What I found helpful was bouncing my ideas off my Mentor and Business Development and Placement Officer, Shauna and feeling really motivated to go for it!”
“She reassured me that what I was doing was at a professional standard and gave me lots of ideas to consider.”
“I’m a social artist, I create beautiful artworks with friendly groups of kids and adults. They do the whole artwork from beginning to end. I guide them; it’s them doing it.”
“We begin with Messy Play and then add details using a technique called Circle Painting. Everybody can paint a circle.
“We do layers of patterns, the different layers and add more complexity and sophistication, using lots of success strategies I have learned as a behaviour therapist for my son – keeping him happy, relaxed and engaged to learn.”
“I want my painters to feel success as that encourages them to be more creative and have fun, and smile!”
“Painting socially with people is wonderful, we all work together, and people don’t feel performance pressure. We all work like a sports team towards the goal.”
Charndra is very grateful for Your Caring Way’s support. She is now focused on her business and planning for the future.
“I finished up with my mentor last month.”
“She lined me up with an Entrepreneurship program, funded by the government. I’ve had an initial online meeting with them.”
“At the moment I have a project underway with Our Voice SA, a peer support group for people with an intellectual disability.
“I’m enjoying working in these communities as I have so many friends who are also in that space, and it’s a logical place for me to branch out into.”
“We’re doing two artworks to be displayed for the International Day for People with Disability in December.”
“I’m also about to start a project with a high school, working with the Wellness Leader and a group of girls with anxiety – something that is really common at the moment.”
“We’ll be creating a beautiful mural in their school for all to see how they can transform a grey wall into something unique.”
“I’m talking with other organisations and we’re planning to do a project with teenagers with ASD, doing social artwork to help them build their people skills in a different, yet engaging way.”
“Working with local community centres to create a social artwork program for adults is another project I’m keen to pursue.”
“My plan is to work on these projects about three days a week, as I have to allow for the demands of my caring role.”
“Having about three projects underway at a time seems to be the sweet spot for me at the moment”
“I simply can’t do it full time. One of my next goals is to get a website up and running. I would also like to offer my resources online to support others who might like to create social art projects.”
“I want to do more murals at schools with kids. I like the social side of it, it’s so powerful.”
“I break up my sessions into three stages. We do ‘Messy Play’, where we use big brushes or sponges.
We literally say we’re going to make a mess; it makes it more relaxing.”
“We then do ‘Exploration’; I model and demonstrate it with them, we do everything together.
Sometimes we may do collage, add gold leaf, use bingo dotters, use balloons – I mix it up to ensure there’s something new in there.”
“Then the last stage is Bling; we may use glitter glue, shiny nail polish, stick on gems – we decorate with paint pens, all to make it sparkle.”
“The kids love it when I come in. They’re not worried about what their work looks like, they’re just doing it, having fun.”
“Social art has the power to really transform – it’s very rewarding to me as well as to the painters.”
“At this time, I have done over 30 projects, it’s quite astounding to realise that – but I have documented every project as a Case Study from the beginning.”