Penrith’s “Hopeful Voice” Mental Health Art Program Is Back – With A Touch Of Sport And Song

Thu Sep 11, 2014

Penrith’s ‘Hopeful Voice’ art program is back in October 2014 as one of Sydney’s foremost initiatives to mark Mental Health Week.

Participants are already busy working on more than 150 paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs and jewellery designs that will go on exhibition at Penrith’s Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest from the launch on Saturday October 11th at 2pm to Sunday October 12th.

The ‘Hopeful Voice’ project started in 2009 when RichmondPRA coordinated a loose gathering of participants and volunteers who came together to express themselves and focus on mental health therapy and recovery through art.

The idea was to enable people with lived experiences of mental health issues and their loved ones and carers to use creativity as an outlet, break down mental illness stigmas and give viewers insight to what living with a mental health issue and being on a recovery journey means.

Now in its sixth year, the project has become a landmark event on Australia’s mental health calendar.

This year RichmondPRA has partnered with other not-for profit groups After Care, Uniting Care Mental Health, Medicare Local and Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District to make the Hopeful Voice project the biggest and most dynamic yet.

The 2014 event sees the addition of sport and song to the schedule to highlight that physical activity, human interaction and creative pursuits are all vital stepping stones when it comes to recovering from mental illness.

Participants from all walks of life are invited to gather at Regatta Park (River Road) at 12pm on Saturday 11th October to enjoy fun activities such as soccer and soft ball.

The gathering will then complete a group walk along River Road to the Penrith Regional Gallery & The Lewers Bequest at 1.30pm, where the RichmondPRA “One Voice, Many Stories” Singing Group will debut two songs to formally launch the Hopeful Voice Art Exhibition.

“People with a lived experience of mental health issues usually have poorer health and shorter life expectancy,” RichmondPRA Penrith General Manager Charles Tabone said.

“This can be for different reasons, such as being less motivated to exercise and pursue creative interests and also because medications can have adverse impacts on physical health.

“Yet it’s also widely known that creative pursuits and physical exercise are keys to mental health recovery and increasing life expectancy. That’s why we’re adding a touch of sport and song to what’s already become a widely popular art exhibition.

“The sense of participation, fulfilment and achievement that go with physical exercise and creative pursuits such as art and singing are good ways to beat mental health issues.”

The local Art workshops are being run at RichmondPRA’s office at 1/80 Henry Street Penrith on 17 September and 8 October. The Singing Group is running a local workshop on 10 and 23 September and the Physical Health Group meet on a more impromptu basis, weather permitting on the day.

Participation enquiries should be directed to Cassandra Turnbull on 9393 9344.

Free shuttle busses will taxi participants from Emu Plains Train Station and Regatta Park during the event, and also from the gallery once the launch is over.

RichmondPRA is a not-for-profit organisation providing recovery focussed support programs, accommodation and hope for people with a mental health issue in New South Wales and Queensland. Advocating community-based assistance, it is a leading mental health support provider that has been in operation for more than 55 years.

Media enquiries:

Matthew Watson 0417 691 884