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Art competition to give creative output for pupils with special education needs

A UK-wide art awards originally launched in 2011 is making a welcome comeback to provide a creative outlet for those with special education needs struggling to cope during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Create! Awards have been brought back by popular demand by organisers Beechwood College following a four-year hiatus.

Attracting thousands of entries from across the UK and overseas, as well as winning its own UK Award for Autism Best Practice, the originally titled Create! Art for Autism awards proved to be hugely popular amongst the autism community.

Now known as Create! to reflect a wider inclusivity, the awards have been opened up to individuals from six years of age upwards with any special education needs, an autistic spectrum condition or a learning disability.

The theme for the awards this year is ‘Dreams’ with three categories to enter: 2D or 3D Art, Digital Media, Poetry or Short Prose. Each category is divided into age groups that include 6-10 years, 11-19 years and 20 years+ and there are prizes for winners and runners up in each age group and category.

Judge, Mahlia Amatina, who is an award-winning conceptual artist on the spectrum and one of the ‘Top 50 Influential Neurodivergent Women’ as voted by Women Beyond the Box, said: “I am delighted to sit on the judging panel for Create!. I’m really pleased to see the creative ability of those with autistic spectrum conditions and special education needs showcased throughout the UK.

“Having a creative outlet in these difficult times is extremely beneficial for everyone. It’s a great opportunity to focus the mind on something positive, I really can’t wait to see all of the entries!”

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Kelly Hull, Principal at Beechwood College, said: “We are thrilled to be able to relaunch Create! this year. The awards proved to be a huge success in previous years, and it seemed the perfect time to bring them back. Many people with special education needs have been struggling with the uncertainty that the Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown has brought, and we know the competition will provide a much-needed creative outlet.

“We are looking forward to seeing all of this year’s entries and we hope that Create! will give everyone an enjoyable opportunity to channel their energies into expressing their creativity and letting their imaginations run free.”

The Create! Awards will see the return of previous judges Anna Kennedy OBE – founder of UK autism charity Anna Kennedy Online, artist and former art teacher Steve Knapik MBE, photographer and founder of autism advisory service ‘Accepting Behaviour’ Aaron Yorke and artist and former teacher Neil Burridge. They will be joined by new judges visionary artist Mahlia Amatina, Director of Hijinx Theatre Ben Pettit-Wade, Liam Ashworth, an artist and learning mentor, Director of Autism Wellbeing Rorie Fulton and founder and CEO of the Autism Directory, Nadine Honeybone.

Entries opened on the 1st July 2020 and close on 31st August 2020. To enter visit www.createart.org.uk

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