Young painter with Down syndrome raises thousands for good causes with his art

Midwest

GLENVIEW, Ill. (WGN) — A Glenview, Illinois high school student is garnering a lot of attention for this art and generous heart.

It’s hard to find a childhood picture of Emmett Kyoshi Wilson without a paintbrush in his hand or dancing with wild abandon. 

“I just feel it,” Emmett said. 

His mother Kathleen said he was four or five when she remembers him picking up his first brush. Born with Down syndrome, Emmett found a way to communicate through brush strokes on canvas.

“Beyond the fact that he could so easily express himself on canvas, it was the confidence,” his dad Paul said.

Emmett has been expressing himself through every broad stroke and fling of vibrant color ever since. 

“Everyone that saw it loved it. Of course, we loved it, but for everyone to be having this visceral reaction to his work and having something that he loved doing and giving back,” Paul said.

Emmett donated all of his first packed show’s proceeds to the National Association for Down Syndrome. 

“About 225 people showed up for this show and we knew we wanted to give back,” said Kathleen.

Since then, his work has garnered thousands of dollars through packed gallery showings, allowing him to donate over $17,000 to foundations supporting veterans and first responders. 

“I just feel happiness and I just feel joyful about this,” Emmett said.

After his last showing, he chose to donate all of the profits to help families in need of food.

“He donated close to $10,000 dollars to the Chicago Food Depository this year,” Kathleen said.

Emmett is now practicing his introduction for an even bigger stage, after learning he will be the recipient of the Looking Beyond Foundation’s Soaring Spirit Award for 2021. 

The parents who were told their son may never hold a pencil say they love watching Emmett paint a different ending to his story.

“It has changed my life,” Emmett said.

Emmett has a favorite slogan from Dr. Seuss that he puts on t-shirts: “Why be the same when we were born to be different?”

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