This online art gallery is run by the National Children’s Bureau and the University of Kent as part of their Living Assessments project in partnership with the University of Cambridge. Find out more here.

We’re currently collecting submissions around the theme of ‘Identity’, in whatever the word means to young people who identify as social care experienced and/or as having a disability and are under the age of 25. 

A £200 gift voucher will be awarded to the best artwork submission and second and third place will also receive prizes! The first 5 submissions will also receive a £20 gift voucher. 

Click here to enter a submission or email us at

The competition for this theme will be open until the end of August.

Current theme: "Identity"

A manga-style drawing of a young person  with short blonde/white hair and dark, punk-style clothing. The person's face is drawn multiple times around the main figure, and word bubbles say "Excuse me", "They/them", "hehe!". Three manga-style stickers decorate the drawing's corners: a ghost with non-binary pride flag colours, a young boy, a smiling toy.

Evie, 12

Taylor, 12

"Head in the stars"

"This art work represents how I feel daily living with autism and how I zone out in to my own world when things are overwhelming."

A drawing of a girl facing away from the viewer so that we can't see her face, wearing a striped t-shirt and backpack. Her hair is done up in braids and there are tiny stars, moons and planet rings all around and above her head, representing the 'head in the stars' theme.

Troy, 21

"Being your own"

Years ago I never knew where I should be or who I wanted to be it took me long to find what made me who I was I am special in my own way. Who wants to give so much to the community and empower so many young people like me to have a voice and never be scared too.

What I love about me is having a disability Autism, what I like about me is I’m gay. What I enjoy about me I see my friends and spend time with my family, what I am proud about me is I’m a activist for young people making a big difference to the community.

Identify means to recognize and decide that you belong to something. But it really means being yourself, finding what makes you and what connects you and gives you a calling in you life to embrace the true meaning of being a young person and adult. What makes me who I am is me as my mum was my inspiration, who gives so much to young people and want to make a change in their lives which enables me to make a difference and be the person I am today.

What I love about me is having a disability Autism, what I like about me is I’m gay. What I enjoy about me I see my friends and spend time with my family, what I am proud about me is I’m a activist for young people making a big difference to the community. 

Chapman Shum, 13

"Harmony in Darkness"

Chapman, 13: Harmony in Darkness (Part 2).mp4

"Harmony in Darkness" captures a poignant moment in Chapman's musical journey, depicting him passionately playing the piano in the dark. Despite being born blind and facing numerous challenges including autism and learning difficulties, Chapman's connection to music remains unwavering.

The image speaks volumes about Chapman's identity as a musician and the transformative power of music in his life. Born during Learning Disability Week, Chapman's story is a testament to resilience and perseverance in the face of adversity. The serendipitous alignment of his birth date with World Music Day (or Make Music Day) underscores the profound connection he shares with music, serving as a guiding light amidst life's challenges.

Chapman's journey into music began at the age of 5, when he was enchanted by the melodies of Disneyland. This pivotal moment ignited his musical passion, propelling him to teach himself to play the piano. Despite the absence of sight, Chapman's musical abilities have flourished over the years, culminating in remarkable achievements such as attaining Grade 8 proficiency in piano and Grade 6 in drums at a remarkably young age.

In "Harmony in Darkness," Chapman's identity as a musician is illuminated by the fervor and intensity with which he plays the piano. The darkness surrounding him serves as a metaphor for the challenges he faces, yet within this darkness, music becomes a beacon of hope and inspiration. The image captures the essence of Chapman's resilience, determination, and unwavering love for music, showcasing the profound impact it has had on his identity.



Identity, identity makes you who you are, 

Your identity makes you a star. 

Your identity might be odd, 

but not in the eyes of God, 

Don't be afraid of who you are, 

because you're a shining star. 

Without your identity you wouldn't be who you are, 

Without you life would be bizarre. 

Identity is not what I promised others, 

identity may be what I look like. 

identity may be how I am inside, 

but no matter what I'm true to myself. 

Identity is what I see in the mirror, 

even if I change, I'm still me. 

after giving me my best try, 

but no matter who I am I'm the most perfectly unperfectlly me. 

No one has control over me, 

life is about me. 

I have lots of pride, 

I'm filled with my identity inside.

A manga-style drawing of a young girl’s head and shoulders. The drawing is split in half so that the left side shows the girl’s face, brown hair and blue eye, and the right side of the girl’s body is a mix of rainbow colours, patterns and words. Here, the top of the girl’s head contains words such as autism, nice, polite, bright, love, respect, friendly, positive, negative, and biggest of all at the centre stand “family” and “friends”. The right eye is drawn as a cat’s or serpent’s eye – yellow, with a sharp black pupil.

Lucy, 11


Marley, 12

Drawing of a pensive girl with long brown hair and her eyes closed. Just behind her head stands a mask of herself, with dark eyes and a scary grim, staring ahead. Below, a writing reads "Who am I?"
Online Art Gallery - Identity entry.mp4

Lucian, 11

Kane, 12

This is my art work for identity. It is made out of a jigsaw puzzle, and all of the pieces are what makes me “ME”. I have left one blank as nothing in my life is perfect. I am happy with the results and I hope that you are. 

Two paper hearts. The one on the right is made of jigsaw-like pieces, each indicating a part of Kane's identity, such as a pair of glasses, music notes, the number 12 - except for a blank one. The heart on the left hand side also has puzzle-like pieces that make up a photo of Kane's. Two notes say "this is me" and "my identity".
A collage/composite of photos of Amy's friends as well as musical notes, hearts, plush toys, flowers , pets. At the front is a faceless drawing of a girl with blonde hair and earrings.

Amy, 17

This is my art work for identity, I have chosen to make a collage of people and things that I love that makes me “ME”


The painting of me is faceless because some of my identity is hidden, there is more to identity than that meets the eye.

Isabella, 9

Kieran, 8

Gabriella, 8

Thomas, 14

Lacey, 11

Jonathan, 18

"Song of Voice"

A poem describing my emerging expression of identity as I learnt to communicate by spelling with my eyes.

As adept fingers point

My silent soul emerges,

Like the dawn blackbird’s song

Suddenly breaking the black.

Music buried in the mind

Sings melodies divine,

Of ancient tales yet untold

Unfurled to men astound.

Whose beauty hears my voice?

What depths saddened my pathway?

Soaring eagles spread wings

I fly to my destiny.

Rowan, 17

My writing describes my experience developing a chronic illness, and how it became part of me, and my identity. Not because I am defined by it, but because it is simply a piece of me, like any other.

Build your home on health and ignore the water as it seeps through the foundation. Ignore the coming winter. It never gets cold around here, anyway.

Days grow shorter. But you do not yet ache.

Frost claims the garden. You light a fire in the basement, to keep the ice at bay.

The smoke fills your lungs. Crawls through your chest like molten gold. But as the soot clings to the back of your throat, you know they cannot see.

Their houses stand tall. Yours is slowly split by ice.

As the walls turn to rubble, and where you once slept starts to rot.

You move. Rebuild what once was. It trembles in the wind.

You plant trees. Flowers. They hold it up.

You learn to live within instability. It learns to live within you.

The smoke no longer burns your throat. The cold sits in your bones, now. But there is no point wishing away what lead you home.

Grace, 21 and Evie, 16

"Choreography by me (Grace) to the song Gold by Britt Nicole."

Online Art Gallery - Grace and Evie.mp4

Summer, 13

A pencil drawing of a girl in a ponytail looking at herself in the mirror. The words 'smily' and 'kind' are written on either side.
A manga-style drawing of a girl with long hair, with puzzle pieces at every corner making up some of her features (hair, shoulders)

Honey, 12

John, 20

Identity, a tapestry of colors,

Woven with threads of dreams and wonders.

A reflection of who we truly are,

Shining bright like a guiding star.

It's the uniqueness that sets us apart,

The essence that beats within our heart.

From our passions to our quirks,

Each facet of us, a masterpiece that works.

Identity is the melody we sing,

The rhythm that makes our soul take qing.

It's the stories etched upon our skin,

A tapestry of experiences, where we begin.

Embrace the quirks, the flaws, the grace,

For in our identity, we find our place.

So let your true self shine and glow,

For your identity is a treasure to show.

The text of the poem over a background of patchworked/patterned fabrics
Drawing of a human silhouette and the words 'Trust yourself' written around it.

Mike, 15

"Mike: dripping- the melting of a mask,

Eyes - people watching you because of how you are,

Words - words of support

Blue - can be the colour of sadness but it gets brighter (its going to be happier)"

A group of post it notes with adjectives such as caring, kind, sad, proud, good brother, good boy, nice to others.

Thomas, 9

Zee, 15

"You and me"

You and me aren’t the same

You want to compare life

Growing up.

You didn’t have to wonder

If your parents were coming back

You didn’t have to worry

When your next meal would be

Or where it would come from

You didn’t get screamed at

Or hit everyday for no reason

You didn’t have to worry

When you made a mistake

You would rely on your parent

You would leave the house

And come back to everything


You had freedom

Your parents spend time with you

Don’t try and compare

Me to you

You and me aren’t the same.

Alanah, 9

A word cloud with a series of statements and questions: driving licence, Identity shouldn't be shared, where am I in my life, freedom, family
Drawing of a girl and the writing "Choose your identity don't worry about what anyone else say about you. Just be you!"

Imogen, 12

Lewis, 8

Drawing/Painting of a human silhouette, a rainbow flag, a red heard, and the words: trust yourself, always trust yourself, love yourself, believe in yourself
Drawing of a head silhouette in rainbow colours with rainbow-coloured question marks around it, and the words Gender and Pride.

Libby, 12

"The meaning of this picture if that anyone can be whatever they want to be."


"It's all about identity so it’s a person looking up to the things I like because that’s what identity is to me."

Drawing of a girl looking up to a series of other drawings of a keyboard, radio, and other objects she likes.

Amy, 23

"This is a mixed media work consisting of mono print, Lino print, ink work and sketching in order to depict the feeling of the mind being trapped in the body. My head often feels like it will explode with all that’s going on inside it, and in creating this work I felt an exhalation of this sensation!"

Skanda, 16

"My notion of identity might be a little cliched but I strongly believe the experiences that we share with our loved ones, friends and ourselves and the interactions that we have strongly forms the basis of the type of person and the kind of characteristics that we tend to grow. That is why I believe in having good and strong relations and bonds are essential guiding lines for what may be a long road ahead for that person.


Here in my case, it was my grandparents who had a strong impact on the formation of my character, and similarly my artwork was inspired when I saw the banter between a grandma and her grandson when we were roadtripping during our holidays. I have tried to capture the essence of that moment here."

Sophie's handwritten poem.

Sophie, 15

In the depths of the moonlit night, a tale of forbidden love takes flight

A creature of the night, with powers unfold,

Whoever has seen a creature so elegant and alluring?

A shadow of darkness, her fangs gleaming like a white light.

Her heart, once cold and still, now beats with desire.

Drawn to her servants warmth, humble and devoted, her loyalty unwavering.

Bound to the countess, her soul forever craving.

In the castle's halls, they share stolen glances,

Their secret love hidden amidst the night's dancers.

The Countess, a predator, thirsting for blood,

Yet with her servant, she finds solace and love.

Their heart entwined in a dance of shadows,

In each other's arms, they find refuge and repose.

Through the centuries, their love remains,

A bond unbreakable, despite the world's disdain.

Together, they navigate the realms of the night,

Their love shines bright, a beacon of light.

But darkness looms as danger grows near,

For their love is forbidden, causing them to fear.

Yet they stand strong, united in their devotion.

Facing the world's judgement with unwavering emotion.

Content note: We thought carefully about sharing this piece of art, as we recognise a depiction of semi-nudity could be uncomfortable for some. On balance, in consultation with the young artist and their mother, we decided it was important to allow the young person to express themselves authentically. We are always reflecting and learning, so please do get in touch if you want to offer constructive feedback on our approach to this decision.

August, 13

"It's about self acceptance and lesbianism and stuff. The girls are both me, just in different times. Cause if you feel like "yeah l, I would date me" then that is you liking yourself. I think we apply this weird 'I can only like myself if I am the objective ideal' view on ourselves but we really see stuff how it is with other people. Obviously saying you would date someone or you like someone is not you saying they're perfect, but they don't have to be."

Types of content you can submit

Visual artwork from our launch party

During our launch party in June 2023 we invited a graphic recorder to create this amazing poster. It captures key themes spoken about during the event in an egaging and exciting way. Zoom in on the picture to see some of the amazing messages shared by our attendees! 

Our online gallery aims to inspire and encourage young people to explore different forms of creativity, share their diverse lived experiences, and establish a sense of solidarity within the social care community. 

Want to find out more about our launch party and the project? Read our news story here.