August 17, 2017.
Australia woke to the horrifying news that 14 people had been killed at the hands of a cowardly series of terror attacks in Barcelona, Spain.
Among those who had tragically lost their lives was seven-year-old Julian Cadman, a young boy who had been struck by a van that ruthlessly ploughed through crowds in the popular tourist area of Las Ramblas while holidaying with his mum, Jumarie "Jom" Cadman.
Speaking to Now to Love, the co-founder and Story Art creator behind the HeART Project, Karen Alsop, reveals how she and the initiative helped Jom move forward from the devastating tragedy of losing her son.
"This project was the most emotional for me and the most hard-hitting," Karen revealed, speaking of the Cadman family.
"His mum reached out to me to ask if I could create an Avengers movie poster piece out of photos that she had taken of him," she said.
"To dress him up in all the different characters, because he had an absolute love for all of those superheroes."
After creating the powerful piece (see below), Karen flew up to Sydney from her hometown of Melbourne and instantaneously become a part of the Cadman world.
"To see the impact and the healing that image has bought them [Julian's parents], in particular Jom, and as emotional as it is and as hard for me to imagine how they keep on going; to see that that has made a difference is really important to me," Karen said.
Karen and her team also recorded a video for Jom and her husband, to aide in the healing process.
"I also had some musician friends come together and record a particular song that really fits and I played the piano," she said. "It wasn't just the image itself and this was so very special."
Incredibly, Jom was so moved by the work that the The HeART project had done for them, that she herself, became a volunteer with the Christmas Wish Project - an extended arm that is dedicated to improving families lives through creativity and bringing the Christmas spirit to those who need it the most.
"That was the first time that she [Jom] was able to do something and come on board and be a part of it with us," Karen said.
"We see it with so many different people that we help, that they then become part of the HeART project and they are in turn able to help other people."
What is the HeART Project and the Christmas Wish Project?
"The HeART Project began in 2016 with one project. Tahliyah was a little girl who couldn't walk, talk or hold herself up. Her mother asked me to create an image for her to make her Christmas a little more special, and what started as a one off project has become a worldwide movement with over 100 volunteers including photographers, editors and assistants helping children and families," Karen said in a statement.
Now in it's third year, and partnering with Nikon, The Christmas Wish Project is an initiative dedicated to improving families lives through creativity and bringing the Christmas spirit to those who need it the most.
According to their website, the initiative spans across 4 countries, with 100 volunteers comprised of professional photographers, designers and creatives visit over 200 children who are spending Christmas in hospital.
Each child is photographed behind a green screen, which is then specially edited to transport them to a magical Christmas wonderland.
How can YOU get involved with the HeART Project?
- Head to the website and fill out a form to volunteer.
- Donate money to help keep the HeART Project moving by heading to their GoFundMe page
- Email Karen and her team to either get a photo done or tell her about someone that needs a photo done (all photos are given as gifts)
- If you know someone on the other side of the world who would like a photo, Karen can connect you with people all over the world.
WATCH NEXT: The Christmas Wish Project courtesy of the HeART Project