NAIROBI, Kenya

Kenyan child prodigy Sheila Sheldone Charles, 12, who recently bagged the 2021 Nina Simone Artistic Excellence Honoree for a young, gifted, and black entrepreneur advises all children to kick the ball harder to explore their latent talents.

Launched in 2006 to commemorate the American musician and civil rights activist Eunice Kathleen Waymon popularly known as Nina Simone, the award honors Black history and unsung achievers within the Black community.

This was the third award for the child artist Sheldone, after winning the Youngest Lioness Award in 2018 and the Global Child Prodigy Award in 2020. She was the only child, and African nominated for the award, where she beat 26 contestants.

In an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency, she asked children to discover themselves to change the life of their families and communities.

“My advice to children has always been, kick the ball harder and you will score. I believe that every child is a prodigy who is waiting to be discovered so that they can change the life of their families and communities just the way that I have,” she said.

The young artist, who with few strokes of the brush paints portraits said her journey has been tough and her secret to winning the prestigious award was her ability to invest in multiple talents and perfect in being an artist.

“I am 12-year-old, I am an artist, designer, model, singer, poet a public speaker, and an upcoming actress, I am happy and honored to have received this award,” she said.

Holding the citation, Sheldone said the award has shown her that many people are recognizing her talents and appreciating what she does.

“I will keep working hard to ensure that I get recognized by many people and achieve my goal which is to inspire young children around the world to do what they love doing and to tell them that anything is possible as long as you believe in themselves, they can achieve anything, “she said.

Helping the poor

The child prodigy artist discovered her gift talent at the age of five. Her artworks have been auctioned in the US in a fundraising drive to help poor girls in Zimbabwe be able to go to school.

She has made portraits of many African leaders like Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni and Kenyan leader Uhuru Kenyatta. She handed over these portraits to these leaders last year. Her painting of US talk show host Ellen DeGeneres had Kenya’s social media buzzing leaving many people bewildered that a 12-year child can come up with such a perfect artwork.

She has been a fan of Ellen DeGeneres after watching her talk show for years that helped people.

Inspired by the program, Sheldone developed a passion for helping the young generation not only in Kenya but across the globe. She has started a foundation to help disabled kids, young women, and children to discover their latent talents.

“I have a foundation called Sheila Sheldon hearts for social change, we work with children with disabilities, young women, widows. We usually have programs where I teach young children how to paint and draw and also host young women and children talk shows,” she said.

Sheldone said her goal is to inspire and equip people with skills that they can benefit from in life.

“I have goals that I would like to achieve but I am not fixed, I have not fixed myself on one thing because there are doors that might open and you will not be able to see them because you are focused on one thing. So, I think in the next five years, I will still be painting and doing art. I will still be doing what I love doing which is inspiring young women, children…widows, and doing what I love,” she said.

Kenyan President Kenyatta is supporting the 12-year-old education as her parents were unable to raise school fees for her.

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