Throughout the year, the ArtWorks community meets a Young Artist from one of our programs who has used the creative and performing arts to help them cope with their illness.

March 2015 ARTIST OF THE MONTH: Elena
Age 15


Elena likes to color and use her iPad to create videos with music. She shares, “I love creating art in school too. Creating art helps me to relax and it’s also fun to create new things. Art helps me to express myself and to be creative.” Elena made her sunflower artwork in Mrs. Umar’s art class.

Elena’s mom, Donna, shares: “We were so thrilled when Elena was highlighted at Express Yourself 2014 in NJ and now as the Artist of the Month! Elena has overcome so much in her 15 years. After having two heart surgeries and hemolytic anemia, this is further opportunity to celebrate Elena for her uniqueness and strength. Often times, as a Mom advocating for her child with Down Syndrome, I have to encourage others to see Elena for her abilities and potential, not her disability. ArtWorks allows Elena to celebrate her spirit as an artist! This feature is timed perfectly, with March 21st marking the 10th anniversary of World Down Syndrome Day. Our hope is that Elena continues to have opportunities to maximize her potential and inspire others in the process. This recognition illustrates how important it is to have people come along side us and share in our dreams for Elena. We believe the possibilities for Elena’s future is unlimited.”

An average day for Elena involves getting up early to going to school. After school she likes to relax by listening to music, singing karaoke or making videos on her iPad. On the weekends Elena enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

Elena talks about some important things that have happened in her life so far: “I have Down Syndrome and I rock my extra chromosome. My Mom and Dad have always taught me that I should dream big and can achieve anything I put my heart and mind to. I love having new opportunities to learn, have fun and to meet new people. I live with my Mom, Dad and younger brothers and sister. I am an 8th grade student at our Middle School. I love my teacher Mrs. DiBenedetto. She makes school fun! I am in the school choir and I am a cheerleader for our Jr. Raider football team. I love to sing and listen to music on my iPod. My favorite band is One Direction. I am going to see them in concert for my 16th Birthday this summer. I love to take pictures and make videos with my iPod touch and iPad. I have modeled for Toys R Us and most recently had my picture taken for Gigi’s Playhouse – a new Down Syndrome Achievement Center in Hillsborough, NJ! When I grow up I want to be a pre-school teacher. I want to work with babies and toddlers.”

Elena participated in Express Yourself-NJ in 2014 and her piece can be seen here.



Title: Sunflowers in Sunlight
This is Elena’s first oil pastel. She completed this piece in her middle school art class. Her art was chosen to be on display at her middle school art fair.