Did you know that 16% of children in Ireland have been diagnosed with a life-long illness?
These children, as well as dealing with serious medical conditions, experience more bullying, have fewer close friends, feel anxious and depressed more often and regularly feel isolated and lonely. Often the diagnoses that they and their families face change how they get to live their lives.
At Helium Arts, we believe creativity changes lives in hugely positive ways and plays an important role in health and wellbeing.
When only 12 years old, Lauren was diagnosed with renal failure. In a matter of weeks, she went from being a typical girl who loved spending time with her friends, to being diagnosed with a life threatening condition. While she waited on the transplant list, dialysis three times a week kept her alive.
Lauren missed a lot of school, becoming isolated from her friends as they were discovering their teenage lives. There was little opportunity to meet new people in hospital.
After a few monotonous weeks on dialysis, Lauren met Rachel, Helium Arts’ artist at Temple Street, and as Lauren’s mother Kerry put it, “a spark was lit.” She enjoyed long talks and sketching with Rachel each Wednesday. She says,
“Drawing & working with Rachel was a really good way for me to process the way I came into hospital, how everything felt…because it all happened so quickly. It was also really fun!”
Today, Lauren has successfully undergone transplant surgery and is in recovery, but she will always remember the impact her time working with Rachel has had on her life. Creativity in many forms continues to be an important feature in Lauren’s life, and when she leaves school she’d love to study art. Lauren and Rachel recently came together again to explore the theme of “transitioning” in hospital, as Lauren starts to move into adult services.
“The light that shines when someone takes the time to say, ‘This is your hour, whatever you want to do with it’… makes a big, big difference”.
Kerry, Lauren’s mum
This year, through our Christmas campaign, we are raising much-needed funds to connect many more sick children and young people, like Lauren, across Ireland with professional artists, like Rachel.
This Christmas, YOU can make a difference in the lives of children living with illness…
Watch a short documentary starring Lauren and Aimee Louise as they work with artist, Rachel in Temple Street here.