‘We are delighted with the visiting artists from Lauderdale House that work with us in the school. The projects are motivating, life-affirming and, most importantly, fun. The sessions are a valuable and positive diversion for the children and young people during their stay in hospital.’ Carol Flynn, Assistant Head Teacher at Great Ormond Street Hospital School
Since 2000 we have arranged for artists to work with the young people from Great Ormond Street Hospital School and the Evelina Hospital School at Guy’s and St Thomas’.
Over this period the pupils (generally between 5 and 16 years old) have been given the opportunity to experiment with a wide range of art forms. These have included writing a hospital soap with Hampstead Theatre, DJ-ing, making ModRoc wire models and paperstick sculptures and taking part in a dance project, ‘Strictly Bedvroom’ (of which more can read more about in the case study below).
Projects of this kind mean that the unwell young people don’t miss out on activities that their peers in mainstream schools enjoy. Indeed, such activities are almost more important to the children in the hospital schools: for many children staying in a hospital can be a daunting experience. The prospect of treatment can be frightening and the treatment itself can prove painful with long periods of inactivity and boredom.
The activities we arrange are designed to bring a ‘normality’ to a child’s stay, contributing to emotional and physical well-being. The emphasis of our workshops is on putting a smile on the children’s faces and momentarily distracting them from their hospital life.
Alongside this, they are learning a new skill and a new pastime and in many cases the activities give them a means of expressing themselves. On one occasion, for instance, a young girl who had refused to communicate suddenly began to sing and articulate her difficulties in a music session.
To reach as many young people as possible the artists have worked throughout the hospital – in the schoolroom, one-to-ones on the different wards, in dialysis wards, with young people with psychological difficulties and in isolation wards. To tailor the activities to the differing degrees of ‘wellness’ represents a challenge for the artists, but ultimately the workshops are thoroughly rewarding experiences for them – as they are for their participants.