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Waterside artist Tori hopes colourful collection will inspire others to follow their dreams

30 November 2021
Young local artist Tori McNeill is hoping to inspire people with a disability to find what makes them happy and follow their dreams during Disability Week from Friday 26th November until Friday 3rd December 2021.  
The 22 year-old from Knightbridge is the event’s Disability Champion for the sixth annual Disability Awareness Week that is taking place across the Derry City and Strabane District Council and Fermanagh and Omagh District Council areas.
Funded by the Public Health Agency, with support from Fermanagh and Omagh Council, it has a full programme of events, performances, videos and information sessions that raise awareness of the importance of creating the conditions where people with disabilities experience equal opportunity and face no barriers to participation in any element of their life.  
The aim of this week of celebration is to join together to support people with disability in our communities and promote health and social wellbeing through the arts.
Tori is one of the founding members of the North West Spectrum Group, which was set up after an Autism Conference held in the Gasyard Centre in January 2020 where feedback was used from those with lived experience to shape and develop their future plans. 
The group of young artists have developed and grown and will be exhibiting their work at the VOID Art Gallery all this week.  
Tori’s artwork focuses on bright colours, sunsets and outdoor landscapes and her inspiration comes from going for walks around the city and capturing pictures that she turns into beautiful paintings. 
She took a special interest in painting six years ago with the support of her art tutor Karen Torley. 
Fast forward to today and she is getting regular commissions for her distinctive paintings and has set up a page on Facebook where the public can purchase her artwork.
Tori will also be delivering art workshops throughout the week where she hopes to inspire others to follow their passions.
“You have to get out there and run with the opportunities that are offered,” she explained. “That is why organisations such as Spectrum North West and Council's Disability Week are great for breaking down barriers for people with Disabilities. 
“It’s all about finding what makes you happy - once you find that, that is what really matters.”
As am ambassador of Disability Week 2021, Tori’s image is used widely on the promotional campaign and her face is on billboards, buses as well as on the front cover of this year’s programme.  
Her positivity and attitude where she states she will not be held back by her disability. ‘When you discover your ability, that’s what shines through” she added.  ​
For more information on North West Spectrum visit www.nwspectrum.com.
To view the full programme go to https://www.derrystrabane.com/disabilityweek.