Felicity makes her mark by connecting to culture

An artwork by a Chifley College student is the face of a Statewide campaign encouraging Aboriginal students to complete their HSC.

Image: Happy and connected: Felicity Adams with the artwork she created that is the centrepiece of a Statewide campaign.

Year 9 student Felicity Adams is living the mantra of the Statewide campaign her artwork has been chosen to represent.

An artwork by the 14-year-old was selected as the main visual element for My Future, My Culture, My Way, a new campaign supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students to achieve their HSC.

Felicity, who attends Chifley College Shalvey Campus and has been painting for almost four years, said art had allowed her to “explore different aspects of, and deepen my understanding and connection to, culture.

It is not the first time Felicity’s artwork has been used in high-profile roles as she said her teachers supported her work and often asked her to provide artwork for different events.

“I was asked by the school to create paintings for the PLP materials and am currently creating an artwork for NAIDOC week,” she said.

A proud descendant of the Kamilaroi people, currently living and learning on Dharug Country, Felicity said painting helped her feel “calm, safe, happy and connected”.

“It’s really cool and a little embarrassing to see my artwork being used. Being put in the spotlight is something I like to avoid. But at the same time, it’s really cool and I’m very proud of myself,” Felicity said.

She said the artwork “represents our journey through school and the continuation of learning more about yourself and your culture, and the gathering of knowledge to prepare ourselves for the world beyond year 12”.

“Each section represents a different stage in school and shows our accumulation of knowledge throughout,” she added.

Leader, Secondary Education Initiatives, Premier’s Priority Des Crawford said it was essential that student and community voices were at the centre of visual design and content writing of the campaign – designed by students and community for student and community.

“We needed to this campaign to resonate with Aboriginal students, parents/carers, schools and community and ensure that together this will strengthen collaboration between Aboriginal students, families, communities and schools,” Mr Crawford said.

Felicity said she backed the campaign and understood the importance to Aboriginal students of completing high school.

“Knowledge is power, and by completing year 12 Aboriginal students have the power to decide where they want to go and what they want to do,” she said.

“Obtaining an HSC is the first step to achieving your goals, no matter how big or small. It’s important for us to set examples for all Aboriginal kids younger than us and to show them if we can do it, they can too.”

The teenager said one of the key issues was the loss of cultural identity during the high school years.

“The higher the grade level, the lower the cultural activities/opportunities are,” she said.

“I think if high schools increased activities and opportunities for students to participate and learn about their culture, the more engaged and encouraged students will be to stay at school and complete year 12.”

While she hopes to continue with her art career, Felicity has also mapped out a future career in hairdressing.

“I am hoping to complete a TVET course in hairdressing in years 11 and 12 if possible to give me a head start in the industry. I would also like to further my education and training in this field through more advanced TAFE and/or university courses,” she said.

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