Budding young author, Anya Ellerington, a Year 8 student at St John the Evangelist Catholic High School, Nowra, was recently awarded the Shoalhaven Australia Day Award 2022 in the ‘Outstanding Emerging Artist’ category for her work titled The Beauty of the Eternal Soul, which was accompanied by a beautiful piece of symbolic artwork.
Anya received the award for her writing, consisting of three poems, which was originally showcased in the Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong (CEDoW) SPLICED unit 'Contemplating Connections’ Discerning Relationships in the Complex Tapestry of Life'.
Impacted by the loss of her grandmother from motor neurone disease, Anya’s writing has brought attention to the incurable disease. The difficult experience influenced her use of poetry to reflect the needs of others, including the individual experience, a family journey and as a bystander.
Anya developed a passion for writing during early primary school years and her ability to articulate feelings and emotions on paper resulted in her first piece of work being published at the early age of 12.
Being the youngest nominee in an open age category, Anya was taken by surprise with the win.
“I was in shock,” she said. “My writing connects to my family and having lost someone so special to me, I did it all for my grandma. When I walked on that stage, I felt her presence, it was a very spiritual moment for me. If it wasn’t for my family, and my grandmother who gave me a reason to write and express, I wouldn’t have won.”
As part of the Diverse Learning Needs support offered to students the Stretching Potential through Learning in Interactive Challenging Environments (SPLICED) program supports students to engage deep learning in cognitive, experiential, social and emotional ways of being. Reflective, critical, and creative thinking help students align and apply their values with which they are confronted, bringing meaning and purpose to their lives.
John Charadia, CEDoW Professional Officer – Gifted Education, Creativity and Critical Thinking, believes Anya’s ability to display empathy and compassion for people within her writing made her a very worthy recipient of this prestigious award.
"I was so excited that Anya’s talents and gifts had been acknowledged and celebrated,” he said.
"As a writer and contemplative thinker, Anya uses her personal experience, higher order thinking and creativity to identify what the world is like, how we would like to be within it, and how we would like everyone to interact. Her empathy and compassion for all people and her deep insights into human nature give her the leadership qualities we should appreciate and acknowledge."
“An experience like this is not easily forgotten,” said Anya. “This award helped me to identify that writing is my passion, and opened my eyes to new possibilities for me.”