An Angus youngster who received an inspirational teen award says he wants to continue raising awareness of invisible illnesses.
William Cuthill, 13, was named the Inspirational Young Person 12-14 Years in the GSK WellChild awards after raising more than £5,000 for the Teapot Trust.
He attended a private ceremony at Kew Gardens last week after being nominated by founder and trustee of the Teapot Trust, Dr Laura Young.
He now wants to raise awareness of illnesses, particularly among teaching staff.
‘Life at school can be difficult’
William hopes to continue his work to help other youngsters by providing art therapy to those in hospital and encouraging greater understanding of health conditions.
He said: “I want to continue to try and bring Art Therapy to children in hospitals so that they can benefit the way I did when I was younger.
“I would also like to help raise better awareness in schools too, so that teachers provide discreet, sensitive support which ultimately would improve every day school life for these children who on the outside look completely normal but underneath they are struggling.
“Teachers more often than not, don’t believe there is anything wrong with a child who has an invisible disease or condition, even when you provide literature to educate them.
“When teachers don’t understand or provide support, life at school can be difficult.
“This also has a knock on effect amongst peer groups as well, which results in unkindness.
“I just want to make things better for others.”
Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
William knows first-hand what it is like to deal with a long-term medical condition.
He has Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) which causes him to have painful joints and low mobility and energy.
However, William is described as “always positive” and looks for ways to promote the art therapy offered by the Teapot Trust.
He said: “I feel very privileged and honoured to be recognised for my work and to be in a position to raise the profile of invisible diseases and Teapot Trust.
“I feel all children who experience chronic illnesses should have access to Art Therapy. It made an enormous difference to my life and hospital visits, especially when I was younger.
“If I can help other young children to access this vital service to help their confidence then I will be satisfied.”
“I haven’t had a joint aspiration or injection for over two years now but I am under no illusion that joint flare-ups can return at any time.
“I am stronger now which has put me in a much better place to help others.”
He added: “I admire the teams from WellChild, GSK, their sponsors, caterers and everyone who helped.
“They all worked incredibly hard to put this event together during very tight and challenging restrictions surrounding Covid.
“I felt honoured to be a part of such a special day with my family.”
The Teapot Trust aims to support children, young people and their families who are suffering the impact of any chronic or long-term condition.
It meets children, young people and families’ needs, offers mental health support, and provides art therapy and creative wellbeing interventions
Dr Young said: “The efforts and lengths to which William has gone for us are exceptional for any young person and would be worthy of honouring.
“However, he has done this work whilst struggling with his own health condition with days not feeling great, such as low energy and pain.
“William soldiers on, thinking of everyone else but himself. He is one of those few people who gives without question.”