We need to build a community for children & young people like Sophia…
EVERY DAY 12,000 children in Ireland face significant social & emotional challenges due to long-term illness or disability…
They experience more bullying. They will have fewer close friends and are much less likely to report feeling happy in daily life compared to their healthy peers.
For many of the children and young people Helium works with, feeling isolated, anxious and sad are very common feelings.
Learn how YOU can help here.
Sophia is 14 and a member of the amazing Electric Feathers group formed from a Helium community art making project taking place over the course of 2018…
Sophia was diagnosed with epilepsy aged 8. Sharon, Sophia’s mother has told us that every morning Sophia has a cluster of spasms and seizures which leave her completely disorientated.
“It’s like the worst headache, the worst hangover, and that’s how her life starts every single day.”
For Sophia and her family, managing her illness while trying to foster a growing sense of independence is a big challenge. Her brother Michael, aged 12, is starting to explore the world independently. Sophia sees this and wonders why she can’t do the same.
"We are always with her, we're in her space...
But she's 14 and she's fighting for her space"
In school, the looming risk of seizure, coupled with the need to constantly have a Special Needs Assistant (SNA) by her side, leads to frequent feelings of isolation.
"She asked me the other night,
'mum do I really have any friends?'"
This is where Sharon believes in the importance of Helium and the way in which it supports young people. At the first Electric Feathers workshop Sophia attended, Sharon tells us that knowing everybody there had epilepsy was a major shift in Sophia “normalising” her condition. Sharon believes that through the creative process, participants are put on a level playing field. She says, “you don’t have to prove anything to anyone, you don’t have to perform”.
“Helium has opened a whole new world for these teenagers, it normalises life and helps them to fit in. Sophia still goes around wearing her Electric Feathers sweater and the t-shirt. And having the showcase and the photos from the day, it’s just so positive”, says Sharon
Being able to give participants independence, knowing that their medical needs will be looked after if it comes to it, means that young people can concentrate on getting involved and working together and parents can leave their children without worry. As Sharon put it, “illness became secondary”.
But Sharon points out,
"The big problem is we need more...We need to build a community between kids who understand each others' issues so they can have real friendships, make life easier for each other and not feel so isolated”.
Give the gift of creativity to children
living with illness this Christmas!
You can help children and young people like Sophia find a meaningful creative outlet and a community of friends to help them live happier, connected, supported, and inspired lives.
Just €125 means one more child can participate throughout 2019.
To learn more about our work in 2018, read our highlights here.
GIVE AND YOU MIGHT WIN!
Thank you for considering giving the gift of creativity this Christmas and helping to build a community for children and young people like Sophia.