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Kids Funky Seomra and Party Fundraiser for Helium

On a mild and sunny autumn Sunday morning, the Helium team arrives at St. Paul’s Parish Centre in Glenageary, South County Dublin, to help set up for the Kids Funky Seomra and Party that afternoon. Light streams in through the glass exterior walls into the airy main hall which will be divided into a disco, a games area, a chill out corner and an art zone. David Mooney, the founder of Funky Seomra, and his team of volunteers are already at work, stringing together long banners of translucent blue and pink chiffon-like material along the walls and partitioning off the dancing area. In between each banner, lanterns of blue and pink netting blow in the breeze.

Helene and musician Sean Callagy are taping large rolls of drawing paper to the wall of the art zone; more volunteers arrive to set up the refreshment hatch which looks onto the dance floor; the sound system and DJ booth are rigged up; the pine floor by the exterior door is gradually transformed with cushions, rugs, and baskets of books into the chill out corner; crates are covered in fabric and turned into games tables; a slide projector beams kaleidoscopic images onto the proceedings; a cardboard box becomes a puppet theatre; on the stage overlooking the disco, lights and what look like tropical plants appear … within the space of a couple of hours St. Paul’s has metamorphosed into the ultimate funky seomra.

Soon families start arriving and Avril and I are busy in the art zone, helping the children to make puppets from socks and pipe cleaners. Strips of red colouring paper become tongues, buttons become eyes, knitting wool becomes hair, left over pipe cleaners become bushy eyebrows, socks become personalities. The kids take their sock puppets off to the dance floor to groove to a mixture of Motown classics, 70s disco, ragtime and everything else in between. Small and large hoops are turned into little islands the kids jump to; large round blue balloons are bounced back and forth across the disco; a face-painter transforms kids into butterflies, rabbits, cats and superheroes. In one corner Helene and Sean float ribbons of fabric over the toddlers; in another, “Spiderman” is brandishing the sword the balloon-modeller has made for him. In the games area, the see-saw is permanently rocking as Jenga towers topple and kids shout “Connect Four!” One little girl is engrossed in a picture book of animals as the kids around her create chalk frescoes on the drawing wall.

Then it’s time for musical games. Musical Animal Statues is the clear favourite. Children dance as monkeys, lions, fish, giraffes, snakes, flies, spiders, elephants; though dancing as a fox proves elusive. Anyone caught moving when David stops the music is bopped gently with a balloon and then we’re off again … This time the kids find themselves under a giant rainbow parachute manned by volunteers and parents who are urged by the kids to go faster. As the sun starts to set, the kids climb into the parachute and we elevate them around the dance floor to the same refrain of faster, faster, faster…

Puppet journey: from sock to disco-dancing buddy

Photographs by Marion Agogue and Helene Hugel

All the proceeds from this fundraiser will go towards Helium’s work with children in hospitals and healthcare settings throughout Ireland. Thank you to all the families and children who came on the day and made it such a special event. Huge props to Funky Seomra who did such a marvellous job organising this fundraiser, to the volunteers who made it all happen, and to St. Paul’s Centre in Glenageary for providing the venue. We would also like to extend our thanks to the Mothercare Group Foundation for their in-kind sponsorship and to Glenisk who provided us with yummy organic yogurts which went down a treat with parents and kids alike.

Mothercare logo www.mothercareplc.com/charity