I've a collaboration 'Show n Tell' project to share with you this week. I partnered-up with one of New Zealand's non-profit organisations - The Neonatal Trust - in equipping them with 6 spunky Digital Avatars to inject some fun, fresh artwork into their updated materials and resources.

One of the ways The Neonatal Trust exists, is in supporting parents, who bring around 5000 premature babies into the world each year in NZ, by helping them in whatever way they can to get them through what is usually a very traumatic time. A gallery of examples of their support can be viewed here.

With the worry of bringing a child into the world early comes the concern for possible long term health issues. So the team wanted to encourage parents with some 'Famous Prems' who have lived full and amazing lives to give them hope that, despite a premature birth, their little ones can have a life that impacts the world in amazing ways. This is where I come into the picture.

Before I tell you how we came to working together, let me introduce you to these adorable little fellas. Neil, the Executive Director for The Neonatal Trust New Zealand, had already perused my character illustration styles and chose what he felt would be an ideal fit with what his team were looking for. From that point it was fairly simple to research each character and create their likeness.

I also had no idea these six were premature babies! Please meet...

Born at 29 weeks and weighing just over 1kg, Wayde van Niekerk’s parents never thought he would survive, let alone become a successful athlete. At the Rio 2016 Olympic Games he made history winning South Africa's first gold medal since readmission. He won the men's 400m event in 43.03 seconds, smashing the world record at the same time.

Stevie Wonder was born at 34 weeks gestation in 1950. A child prodigy and hugely successful musician, he has won 22 Grammy awards and has had over 30 top 10 hits. Stevie Wonder is blind due to retinopathy of prematurity (ROP), a complication of prematurity caused by underdeveloped vessels on a premature baby’s retinas. Through research in the years since, the incidence of vision issues is now greatly reduced.

One of the world’s most famous and influential scientists, Sir Isaac Newtown was born on December 25, 1642. He weighed just 3 pounds at birth, and was not expected to live beyond a few hours. Not only did he survive, but he went on to describe the laws and gravity of motion.​

Albert Einstein, Physicist and Nobel Prize Winner in 1921, was born early in Ulm, Germany in March 1879. He contributed more than any other scientist to the 20th-century vision of physical reality. At his birth, Albert’s mother was reputedly frightened that her infant’s head was so large and oddly shaped. His parents also worried about his intellectual development as a child due to his initial language delay and his lack of fluency until the age of nine, though he was one of the top students in his elementary school and then progressed rapidly from there.

Although he wasn’t due to be born until January of the following year, Sir Winston Churchill was born on November 30, 1874. Although he was born early, Churchill went on to become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, a gifted military leader, and a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature.​​​

Born prematurely in 1885, Anna Pavlova become one of the world’s most famous ballerinas. Her small size and stature, likely a result of her premature birth, set her apart from other ballerinas of the time.

Cute aren't they! Illustrating them was an absolute delight and once I finished was actually sad to realise I had done so.

They may look simple but each of them took 3 1/2 hours to illustrate! I loved creating the detailing of their outfits.

This is how they were received,

“Tania was a pleasure to deal with. The caricatures

developed were 100% on brief and will be a great

addition to our material supporting neonatal families.

From the start of the project the communication

was strong and the images were available earlier

than expected. We can’t deliver our support without

wonderful volunteers who provide their time and

skills to enable our work. Thanks Tania!”

- Neil O'Styke, Executive Director, The Neonatal Trust.

You're so welcome Neil!

So how did such a collaboration come about?

"Who did you help today?"

Was an off-the-cuff question Stacey Shortall asked her audience at the 2015 Women of Influence awards dinner. She was in the habit of asking her children this question each night at the dinner table. Without knowing it, this simple question gathered momentum and became a movement across New Zealand, and Who Did You Help Today Trust was born, soon becoming the epitome of a Socially Responsible organisation.

Such a marvellous phrase deserves a Google definition,

"Social responsibility is the idea that businesses should balance profit-making activities with activities that benefit society; it involves developing businesses with a positive relationship to the society in which they operate."

When I first learned the term several years ago, I was immediately drawn and resonated to the core ethos of it, and if you've read anything about me, you'll know I strive, through my little business, to reflect such a business model.

One of the three projects of Who Did You Help Today Trust is,


New Zealand’s first home-grown digital platform that connects not-for-profits with skilled professionals to enhance collective capability to achieve social change.

HelpTank brings together capability with need in our country so that people reconnect for good.

Launching in June 2017, I joined up in the first few weeks to be one of their 'professional volunteers'.

HelpTank's research showed community groups often struggled to engage skilled volunteers while volunteers reported it challenging to connect with an organisation needing their area of expertise. So HelpTank became the bridge joining these seekers.

If you're worried that you'd be inundated with requests for work, you needn't be, In 9 months I've received 3 or 4 notifications of projects and only one I was well matched to, the project above. Working with The Neonatal Trust was simple and easy, I appreciated that Neil knew what he wanted and communicated quickly from the get-go, and was easy to please.

If you're a professional wanting to try your hand at giving-back a little through your expertise, or a non-profit looking for skilled professional help for your projects, let me encourage you to create a profile on HelpTank to seek one another out there. To date there are 172 organisations registered with 345 willing volunteers working on 183 projects.

Support The Neonatal Trust in their quest to help NZ families.

Register and create a HelpTank profile and put your had up to help.

More about Who Did You Help Today Trust.

Tell your own story with a set of personalised Digital Avatars. Working together, we make a difference. Thank you for supporting a small business. In supporting me you help me in supporting others.

To your business success

- Tania

#illustration #volunteering #Collaboration #TheNeonatalTrust #HelpTank #DigitalAvatars #ShownTell #socialresponsibility #entrepreneur

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