Photographer Brings The Wildest Dreams Of Children With Health Conditions To Life
Canadian photographer Shawn Van Daele is a founder of “Drawing Hope” project, which brings the wildest dreams of children living with serious health conditions to life by using their drawings as a guide. After the children submit their drawings to him, the photographer tries to have a photoshoot with as many of them as possible. Then, using his photo manipulation tools and skills, he makes the children into real heroes and heroines in world of their own imagination.
The photo shoot part is as important as the final magical image. Many of these children have various physical impairments, so Van Daele tries to work around them and make the process as fun as possible for the kids and their families. “I hear a lot ‘that was soooooo fun!’ afterwards, and the best shots are the ones where they’re laughing or giggling and smiling, which is so important for kids who spend so much time in hospitals,” says Van Daele.
The project isn’t just for a few laughs and a good time – it also serves as a means for children and their families to escape their condition and forget about their difficulties for at least a little while. Many of the children participating in the program need transplants, so the project also raises awareness about them as well, underscoring the fact that that registering as an organ donor is a simple way to save a child’s life.
David, Keeper of The Stars
David was born with Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, meaning half his heart did not fully develop. His first surgery was at 8 days old, which left him in cardiac arrest that was thankfully stabilized. For 8 weeks he stayed in the hospital, suffering multiple infections, later going into congestive heart failure before his 2nd surgery at 7.5 mo old. His third surgery happened 3 years later, helping prolong the life of his heart. Though David may one day need a heart transplant, he knows that anything is possible. Even protecting the stars we all wish on.
Marco, The Explorer
Marco was born with a broken heart. By the miracle of a heart transplant at 34 days old, Marco received the gift of life, only to face cancer at the age of 4 – which he heroically fought, and won. With determination and a donor family through www.beadonor.ca anything is possible…even magic apples.
Ryley, The Queen of Hearts
At 7 months old, Ryley’s life was saved by a heart transplant, made possible by an amazing donor. Without her transplant, Ryley wouldn’t be here to inspire others and be an advocate for www.beadonor.ca – an online registry to support the gift of life. Register today, and anything is possible. Even unicorns.
Anniek, Hero of Sand Castle
Anniek was born with 5 Congenital Heart Defects that were diagnosed about 7 hours after se was born. At 17 days old she had open heart surgery to “repair” her heart defects, and also had 5 heart catheterizations. She currently has a feeding tube, and will need additional surgeries in the future. Despite her conditions, Anniek still knows that anything is possible. Even becoming the Hero of Sand Castle.
Alexandria, Queen of Candyland
Alex was born with a rare disease called Biliary Atresia, a maldevelopment of the common bile duct in the liver. At 1 month old she underwent a KASAI Procedure surgery, but 3 months later it was discovered she would need a transplant. Luckily, once she was listed, she received her gift of life after only 8 days of waiting. With her new liver made possible because of an organ donor, she is a true example that anything is possible. Even becoming the Queen of Candyland.
Dawson, Pirate of Trillium Island
Dawson developed meningitis when he was only 2 months old, resulting in external hydrocephalus and a brain bleed, as well as an Ecoli infection in his kidneys and bladder. Most of his first year was spent in the hospital battling secondary infections. With mild Cerebral Palsy, Spina Bifida Occulta, as well as kidney and liver damage, Dawson spends part of his time in a wheel chair – but it doesn’t stop him from believing anything is possible. Even becoming The Pirate of Trillium Island.
Dominic, The Time Traveller
Dominic was born prematurely with Down Syndrome, feeding issues, AND congenitive heart failure. He’s had many surgeries, most recently on his heart to repair his atria. Dominic is non-verbal and is hospitalized many times a year as he battles recurring pneumonia. All this aside, with his contagious laughter and sense of adventure, anything is possible – even traveling through time to play with dinosaurs.
Kayla – The Forest Keeper
When Kayla was 9 years old, she was diagnosed with Chron’s Disease an inflammatory bowel disease causing inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, joint pain, swelling, fatigue and other symptoms. She takes daily medication to try and control the disease so she can continue to pursue her love of horses and riding. The ir no cure, but with continued research anything is possible. Even magical forests.
Avery – The Butterfly Fairy
Avery as born with a cleft palate, underdeveloped lower jaw, feeding and breathing issues, spending her first 6 weeks at London Children’s Hospital. Her first surgery was at 2 months – a gastromy tube. Her cleft palate was repaired and she received ear tubes at 1 year old. She hasn’t stopped smiling through it all. Keep smiling, and anything is possible. Even fairies.
Kaleigh, Princess of Rose Castle
Kaleigh was diagnosed at 13 months with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis, preventing her from moving around like a “normal” toddler should. For several years, she required a weekly injection of a harsh narcotic, which finally put her into remission. Last December the arthritis returned but injections directly in her joints have helped. Despite the pain even most adults never know, Kaleigh still believes that anything is possible – even becoming Princess of Rose Castle.
Dominic, The King of Hope
Dominic was diagnosed at 24 weeks in utero with severe congenital heart defects. He had his first surgery at 4 days old, and spent his first Christmas in the hospital after open heart surgery. On his third birthday he had a third surgery. Since then he has been diagnosed with learning difficulties and Apraxia of Speech, but it hasn’t stopped him dreaming big. With teams of life-saving individuals at our local children’s hospitals, anything is possible. Even becoming King of your very own castle.
Chance – The Captain
Chance was diagnosed with Pre B Cell Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia in June of 2011. The next month his diagnosis changed to “rare, high risk”. His chemo treatments are expected to last until October 2014, but his spark and will to survive inspires his family and everyone around him. When you give Hope a Chance, anything is possible. Even becoming Captain of your very own ship.