Photographer Takes Kids Used to Being in Hospitals and Places them Inside Their Own Drawings


When Shawn Van Daele looks at a child’s drawing, he doesn’t just see crayon marks or colored pencil scribble. He sees a world he can bring to life.

The 37-year-old photographer from Eden Mills, Ontario, has been traveling across Canada and the U.S. meeting children and teens with health conditions and photoshopping them into the dreams they draw up. He’s helped young girls become butterfly fairies and young boys become superheroes. He’s made one little boy a karate master and turned another little girl into a prima ballerina. He appropriately calls his series the “Drawing Hope Project.” Because that’s exactly what his work creates — hope.

“The attention these kids are getting is incredible because each of their causes is so unique and deserves so much attention,” Van Daele told The Mighty in an email. “If it has inspired one person to register as an organ donor, or to donate blood, or support their local children’s hospital or all the numerous foundations that support these kids, then the project has accomplished what I set out for it to do.”

Visit the Drawing Hope Project’s website to view all of Van Daele’s “Little Heroes,” and check out a few fantastical images below.

friendship by christopher robin
Shawn Van Daele

kendal, the ballet queen of broadway

Anniek, the hero of the sand castle

jack, the here of hope street

travis, the watchman

hunder, hero of the deep

avery, the butterfly fairy

david, keeper of the stars

alexandria, queen of candyland

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