Radius Housing’s Art from the Heart competition
winner Shayna Velasquez presents painting to Health Minister as a gesture of
thanks to all Health Service staff.
Press Release - 23rd June 2020
In just a few weeks
young Belfast artist Shayna Velasquez has captured the feelings of people from
across Northern Ireland during the lockdown with her award-winning work of art
‘Solidarity’. Inspired by the dedication
and professionalism of medical staff across the region during the coronavirus
pandemic, Shayna’s painting was judged top among nearly three hundred entries
in the Radius ‘Art from the Heart’ competition. Now, the 16 year old from
Belfast has presented a unique print of her winning entry to the Health
Minister, Robin Swann MLA, as a way of saying thank you to all those working in
the Health Service in recent months.
Shayna’s artwork was
picked from hundreds of entries by expert judges to be the overall winner of
the Radius Housing Art from the Heart Competition, which called on young people
from across Northern Ireland to paint and draw images of how they felt the
community was responding to the crisis. The artwork presented today will hang
in the Department of Health as a thank you, and a way to remember the
dedication of health care workers in recent times.
Speaking at the
presentation, Shayna Velasquez, who is a Year 12 pupil at Aquinas Diocesan
Grammar School, said: “I’m really happy to win the competition, but also to
present this copy of my artwork to the Health Minister today as a way of saying
thank you to all health workers on behalf of young people across Northern
“I wanted to create a
piece that resonates with everyone, that reminds us of people’s selfless acts,
how we had to adjust to the new normal and how we have supported each other
during the pandemic. I wanted to address health workers directly to tell them
that they are not alone and that we all are playing our part in flattening the
curve,” she added.
Radius Housing Director of Communities, said “The aim of our Art from the Heart
Competition was to help spread positivity and support right across the
community during the pandemic. The volume and quality of the entries show just
how much young people care about the Health Service, the community and family.
Shayna’s entry stood out among all, as it captured so much of the effort
everyone has been making to help people through this difficult time, not least
the health service.
“On behalf of Radius,
I am delighted that Shayna’s artwork is being presented to the Health Minister
as a token of all our gratitude and thanks to the health service and frontline
staff who have been there to protect us. I hope that this will be a sign of
hope for everyone,” she added.
Health Minister, Robin
Swann, said “There is no doubt that the front line health service staff across
Northern Ireland are the heroes of this pandemic, and they are rightly being
recognised by the whole community. We’ve seen this through the clap for carers
and the bright rainbows in the windows of so many homes. Now, thanks to Radius
Housing’s Art from the Heart competition winner, Shayna Valasquez, we have this
beautiful piece that can remind everyone in the health service of how grateful
people are for their efforts.”