The Young Heart Program was established in 2016 designed to help boost the life of a young person who is interested in photography but has not had the opportunity to explore their passion due to personal, medical or financial constraint.

Our inaugural ‘Young Heart’ was Karley Miller – her mother Nikki wrote to us to share her story. Karley was born with a series of medical problems culminating in the removal of half of her brain in 2015.

Since being inducted to the program in May 2016, Karley has been exposed to amazing opportunities around the world including spending one-on-one time with renowned photographers Sue Bryce, Jerry Ghionis and Benjamin Von Wong. While in LA she was also surprised by her idol, Guy Sebastian who shared some photography tips with Karley.

She has also been mentored by Australian photographers and joined the Australian Heart Project team on workshops, live shoots and rewarding community projects.

Watch Karley's 6 Part Story

In May 2017, Karley announced our current young heart – Brittany Long. We first met Brittany through our December 2016 Christmas Wish Project, and discovered her love for Photography.


We met Brittany Long at our first Christmas Wish at Monash Children's Hospital in Dec 2016. Brittany had recently lost the use of her legs from unknown causes. As a 16 year old in hospital, she initially didn't know if she was too old for a Santa photo. But she is so thankful she decided to come to have her photo done by The Heart Project. 

Through meeting Brittany and discovering her love of Photography, we decided to make her the next Young Heart.

Brittany has had many opportunities and has herself created a magical image for a young boy, Elliot as part of The Heart Project.

You can read more about Brittany's story in the Daily Mail article here

Brittany's Heart Project with Elliot

In October, 2018, Brittany Long handed over the baton to our current Young Heart, Patricia Anderson.

16yo Photography enthusiast Patricia Anderson may not be able to walk or speak, but Photography organisation, The Heart Project have provided her with the opportunity of a lifetime.

Award Winning Photographic Artist, Karen Alsop first met Patricia when she visited the Doveton RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association) at Myuna Farm.

Wanting to create a special piece to represent the ability in others, I approached RDAV with my unique idea, said Karen. “An idea inspired by Mary Poppins – a movie from my childhood led me to want to create something magical for children with disabilities, a fantastical place where those who face challenges every day, can gallop free in their imaginations.”

The Pet & Animal AIPP National Photographer of the Year certainly achieved this, as seen in this simply stunning photograph, where four riders appear in various stages of ‘escaping’ the Luna Park Carousel while their horses come to life to take them riding free.

Patricia Anderson rides proudly in the foreground of the artwork. The other photographic element of her artwork includes photos of horses which were taken during jumping practice at the Ayr Hill Equestrian Centre (Clyde North). Karen wanted to take photos of just the horses in action so that they could be superimposed using Adobe Photoshop in the final piece carrying the RDAV riders.

Karen explained this technique took time and skill to judge perspectives so that the angles were completely accurate for the final photo.

“The cooperation of all the organisations and the assistance of volunteers meant I could produce a work of art that I believe helps all people emerge from their reality into their wildest dreams.”

Patricia Anderson was excited about being part of this photo project and her exuberance as she rides her horse can be seen as she features as the main star of the stunning artwork.

Karen discovered Patricia’s love of photography when talking with her parents. Together with the team from The Heart Project, they decided to name Patricia the next Young Heart and provide her with Photographic opportunities that might normally feel like an impossibility in Patricia’s situation.

At a surprise presentation at an RDA AGM on Monday the 22nd of October, Patricia Anderson was presented with her very own Nikon DSLR, generously donated by Nikon Australia. The 2017-2018 Young Heart, local Berwick girl, Brittany Long was there to share exciting the news with the family. The announcement certainly took Patricia’s family by surprise as many tears and hugs followed.

Karen explained that The Heart Project has been working behind the scenes with Nikon to find ways to support Patricia in her photographic passion. Patricia has an eye control device that attaches to her Surface Pro on her wheelchair. Together with their imaging partners, The Heart Project is going to enable Patricia to control the shutter of the Nikon using eye control. The camera will be tethered to the computer and anyone assisting her can be directed by Patricia on what to photograph and Patricia will be able to see the image in live view on her monitor. Up until now Patricia’s photographic potential has been limited, but she has shown a keen desire to pursue her Photographic passion.

The team are excited to work with the Patricia’s software engineer to give her every possible opportunity.As the new Young Heart, Patricia will be provided opportunities to expand her photography, to meet world class photographers, and to attend photographic events to further her love for the camera.

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