Xanthe’s creative goals assisted by APM

Published on 28 Jan 2021

Xanthe is pictured smiling, holding her award

Hervey Bay teenager Xanthe is a young woman who just cannot rest until she makes her dreams a reality.

So much so that this week the perennially busy eighteen-year-old added a new award to her string of achievements.

Xanthe was honoured in the Fraser Coast Australia Day Awards for creating the Hands and Hearts Signing Choir. She was the recipient of the 'Young Cultural Award of the Year'.

Her mum Karen is full of praise for APM Communities and especially the support given to Xanthe’s musical project by team member Sarah.

APM Communities helps NDIS participants and people with disability to identify and access the support they need.

“Sarah is just a legend. She helps me with everything,” Karen said.

“She encouraged the grant applications and worked out what we needed and helped with the printer, the choir shirts and other things. She also liaised with the videographer and is involved in meetings with the music tutor. She is so brilliant.”

Xanthe was school captain in her final year school last year but she also found the time to create something special – the all-inclusive singing and signing community choir. It was her dream to bring people together to share the joy of music.

She lives with autism and an intellectual disability. Her choir named Hearts & Hands has its base in Xanthe’s love of music. Karen said Xanthe was non-verbal until she was eight but could always communicate through song. Karen would sing her young daughter instructions to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

Xanthe standing beside a 'Hearts and Hands' banner, holding her hands in the shape of a heart

Karen said she taught Xanthe a programme that uses symbols, signs, and speech to help people communicate. Xanthe would sing and sign songs.

Her innovative musical strategy was so successful that Xanthe gave her first eye contact while bonding over song and her passion for both music and signing grew over the years.

“Xanthe was non-verbal until the age of 8 and music is the key to her, so I sung instructions to Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Then she started talking but still loves signing. She loved it and stuck with it and now she teaches me signs,” Karen said.

“It is her hobby so wherever she is, in the car or at home and music is on she just sings and signs the whole time,” Karen said.

Hearts & Hands incorporates singing and signing and has a membership of approximately 12 people with differing abilities. Group members sign in a programme called Keyword Sign.

Her passion was also honoured last year when she was a recipient of an Autism Queensland’s 2020 Creative Futures Recognition Award.

The award acknowledges the contributions of people living with autism. Xanthe received the Individual Achievement Award for creating the choir.

Now that Xanthe has finished school she has embarked on a new creative outlet to complement her singing but this time fashion as opposed to music has her attention.

Xanthe pictured in the process of tie-dyeing her shirts

She has just started Xanthe’s Wonders which features her tie-dyed t-shirt creations. The t-shirts are sold through the Xanthe's Wonders Facebook page.

Xanthe and Karen both hope this will become a successful business.

“She makes tie-dyed tops, and she loves doing that. She would like to sell them at the markets.”

The business only started last month but Xanthe has already found there is lot of interest in her handcrafted items. Although her business and choir keep her very busy Xanthe has no plans to give up either activity.

“In the meantime, we will keep the choir going and keep Xanthe tie-dying,” Karen said.

See a full list of award recipients on the Maryborough Sun Facebook.


As part of the NDIS Partners in the Community program, APM Communities help people with disability in several regions in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory to access support.

Our Local Area Coordinators (LACs) help people with disability, National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) participants, families and carers to identify and access the support they need.