Jack is nine-years-old, a twin, and one of four kids in his family.
He suffers from anxiety, which can make his days – and nights – pretty difficult.
Last year, Jack was being bullied at school. He was made a target because of his anxiety, and he was subjected to physical and psychological bullying. It became so bad and so confusing that in his 8-year-old mind, he believed there was only one way to stop the pain.
One day he left a note for his school teacher.
That night at home, he took a texta and covered his bedroom floor and pillow with the words:
“I don’t want to be alive”.
A year or so on, Jack Wilkinson is still here, and he’s doing much better. Jack has decided to help other kids like him, so he and his mum have started Jack Wilkinson Kids – a project that uses Jack’s quirky (and totally awesome) drawing to raise funds and awareness for the Kids Helpline charity.
Jack had been internalising a lot of the distress he’d been going through. He’s a kid – and when you’re a kid, you don’t always have words for how you’re feeling, know how to ask for help, or know who to talk to.
Fortunately, Jack belongs to a very loving, supportive family. And since that awful time last year, he’s been able to tell his Mum and Dad more about his feelings. The bully at school is gone. And Jack’s been getting extra help from a therapist.
Jack’s mum Kristy says:
“We’ve been able to give Jack a lot of support so he has some strategies for managing the hard things life throws at him. But it really upsets me when I hear about children who’ve reached a stage where they take their lives.
“I want us to be able to reach those kids before they get to that stage. I want kids and their families to know about Kids Helpline.”
The important thing for Jack is that he can now get those feelings of anger, confusion and distress out; he can talk about them. And he says it’s made a big difference:
“It makes me better when I talk to someone. And when I know they’re doing something about the bad things, it makes me feel safe.
“Now, I feel pretty good. But other people are going through the same things as I did and having a hard time. It would be nice for them to be able to talk to Kids Helpline.
“It would be nice they’d have a friend and wouldn’t be as sad or scared. “
Jack has always loved art and drawing. As he’s grown, his parents have realised how valuable it has been for Jack to use art as a way to manage life. So they’re encouraging Jack to draw and create. They don’t have to ask twice! Jack has MOUNTAINS of drawings.
“It helps me to be calm” he says.
“Instead of my feelings coming in my body and hurting, I can draw and I’m calm and happy.”
Kristy says her Jack has always been emotional, and very caring. She wasn’t surprised when he told her he wanted to help other kids who were being bullied or feeling scared. Kristy runs a business manufacturing apparel and other products, and she saw a wonderful way to harness Jack’s passion and art for good.
“I love his imagination; he’s really got his own style. So I thought ‘why not print his drawings on T-shirts, then sell them and raise money for Kids Helpline. I’ll handle getting the shirts made and distributed, and we can donate proceeds.”
So now Kristy is selling beautiful quality T-shirts printed with Jack’s best designs – and donating money raised so more children have someone to call or contact online if they need help.
“We’ve told all our children about what Kids Helpline is and does,” she says. “As a parent, it’s reassuring to know they’re there if we can’t be.”
Jack’s completely on board with that:
“I’m lucky my Mum’s started this for me.”
“I want to raise money ‘cos I’d like other people to have a good life. I don’t want any kids to feel bad and not have anyone to talk to.”