Emmett Kyoshi Wilson inspires inclusivity through art


Hafsa Rahman and Ella Vick

As a child, Emmett Kyoshi Wilson, a South freshman with Down Syndrome, had difficulty writing. In an effort to get anything into his hand, his mom, Kathy Menighan Wilson, tried handing him a paint brush instead of a pencil. What ensued was the beginning of Emmett’s journey as an artist. 

“I gave him paint brushes and I started showing him how I was doing little things on the poster board, and he started immediately picking up the paint strokes,” Kathy said.

Since that moment, Emmett has had a passion for drawing and painting, Kathy said. At first, Emmett created paintings for smaller audiences like his family. As demand grew for his paintings, however, the Wilsons decided to host auctions and art shows to sell his paintings to raise money for charities. Principal Dr. Lauren Fagel applauds Emmett’s efforts to help others. 

“I think it is a creative way to raise money for charity,” Fagel said. “Emmett is a talented artist, and he is so thoughtful to use his artwork for good.” 

Understanding the impacts of the pandemic: ongoing food shortage in low-income communities, Emmett had an urge to help. Determined to make a difference, the Wilsons hosted an auction Saturday, selling one of Emmett’s original pieces “Mom’s Packed Lunch” to benefit The Greater Chicago Food Depository. 

“We were talking about which paintings [to auction for the Chicago Food Depository] and Emmett goes ‘I want Mom’s Packed Lunch,” Kathy said. “And I thought, well how fitting is that, ‘Mom’s Packed Lunch’ is what is going to help create money to help people that are in need of food.”

Emmett’s purpose for painting is to give back, Kathy explained. His creativity and passion to help others is what South Painting teacher Stephanie Fuja admires most about Emmett.

“Emmett is the core of what being a Titan truly is here at Glenbrook South,” Fuja said. 

On Saturday alone, Emmett’s artwork raised $5,600 for the Chicago Food Depository. Armed with natural creativity and a drive to improve his community, Kathy believes this is just the beginning of Emmett’s journey to inspire inclusion for all people, regardless of disability. 

“Every person on the planet comes to this earth with a gift,” Kathy said. “If you are given an opportunity, and an environment that allows you to flourish, you will find what your gift is. [As for Emmett,] we don’t know where his journey is going to go, but we know it is going to positive places.”