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In 2018, Helium Arts brought the powers of creativity to 305 children in hospitals and community settings. We worked with 16 talented artists and 38 amazing volunteers helped at events in public settings.

As well as this, we received two new funds to establish our Creative Health Hub model in Cork and Limerick in 2019 from Creative Ireland’s, National Creativity Fund and three-year investment from a private donor. We were accepted onto the Social Innovation Fund’s Accelerator Programme and we were shortlisted again in 2018 for the Good Governance Awards and the Allianz Business to Arts Awards for our partnership with BNP Paribas.

Below are some of our programme highlights from 2018. 

Our work in the community


Final touches: Last day of art camp as participants prepare for their showcase at IMMA. Photo credit: Thom McDermott.

‘Making art and friends’ was how one teenager described Electric Feathers, Helium’s art project for teenagers with epilepsy and additional needs. Between February to July 2018, participants worked with artist Rachel Tynan to create artworks that drew on ideas of individual and group identity. Here’s what some of the young people and parents said was the best thing about the project:

‘Meeting other people who know what it’s like to have epilepsy’

‘Doing art and meeting people’

‘[My daughter] learned to be part of a team and be accepted for who she is without the need for explanations.‘

You can read more here.


Teen superheroes take flight! A year of adventure with CanTeen Ireland

Teen superheroes take flight! A year of adventure with CanTeen Ireland!

Home Sweet Home, Helium’s fourth collaboration with CanTeen Ireland, the national young people’s cancer support group, took place in the summer of 2018 with 38 young people, led by musician and composer Sean Carpio, visual artist Louise Manifold and filmmaker Alan Brennan. The project aimed to appeal to the young people’s varied creative interests through a multidisciplinary approach, bringing together music, art and filmmaking and giving participants an opportunity to express themselves in non explicit ways.

“The young people have stuff in life that bothers them that often they don’t want to talk about. But this project allows them to articulate what they’re feeling without even having to say it sometimes because they can channel it into the art they’re creating.” –  Liam Quinn, Chair, CanTeen Ireland

The story we created – where everything’s fine, then the apocalypse comes, and after it – it’s like us going through cancer…Because [the film] tells our story in a completely different way, we have a connection to it” – Ashleigh.

On February 2nd 2019, we will be a hosting a lunchtime screening of the film with live music performance by the project participants in the Sugar Club. Stayed tuned for more details!

 You can read more about the project here.

Our Early Years work


Our award-winning Pop Up Picnic, a magical multi-sensory theatre experience for young children with complex needs, was adapted in 2018 for public settings. Since 2016, the project has toured to the homes of families supported by the Jack and Jill Foundation, this was the project’s first outing into the public realm and what what a time we had!

As part of Dublin City Council’s Criunniú na nÓg programme, we started with performances at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, while two Pop Up Picnic inspired events for young children in hospital and care settings also took place in partnership with Children in Hospital Ireland (CHI) and the Central Remedial Clinic Pre-School.

The project was featured on RTE Radio 1’s, Morning Ireland programme, hear the recording here.

“Ailís is a different child today to what she was when she started. She didn’t play with anything, she really didn’t engage with anything around her … She was at a wall, and I just feel the picnic got her over that wall by it’s approach.” 

Read more about Helium’s Pop Up Picnic at IMMA here.

Read more about Helium’s Pop Up Picnic at the Central Remedial Clinic here.

Read more about Helium’s Pop Up Picnic in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin in partnership with Children in Hospital Ireland here.

Our work in hospitals

Visual journey map from teen participant on the Fireflies project

In February 2018, Helium Arts’ Fireflies artist-in-residence Siobhán Clancy was invited by Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), Mairéad Kinlough, to facilitate a creative activity as part of a ‘Transition Clinic’ at Temple Street Children’s University Hospital for teens with renal disorders who are preparing to move into adult services at Beaumont Hospital.

This was an exciting development whereby creative professionals are recognised as a valuable addition to enhance & support the clinical work of healthcare professionals.

As part of this development, we also received funding from Tusla – the Children & Family Agency – to develop a toolkit and training programme for healthcare professionals. This new project will inspire and support healthcare professionals to use “creative engagement activities” in their work with young people with chronic/long-term conditions in hospital settings.

Please follow this link for more details on the Fireflies project.

Our Professional Development work


Interactive workshop – Engaging the Senses

In May, we held a fully-booked symposium called Engaging the Senses in association with Kildare Arts Office at Riverbank Arts Centre, exploring multi-sensory, interactive arts for young children with complex needs. Speakers and panelists from the day included Tim Webb of internationally acclaimed, UK children’s theatre company, Oily Cart; Margaret McGrath, Senior Occupational Therapist with Enable Ireland and Margaret Naughton and Mary-Joe Guillfoyle of the Jack and Jill Foundation. The Helium Arts’ Pop Up Picnic creative team also hosted an interactive workshop for guests who ranged from special needs educators and healthcare professionals to artists and performers.

You can read more here.


In 2018, we launched our new website. As well as lots of great information, images and videos about our work, we are most excited about the Learning Bank, where we’ll be sharing resources for both arts and healthcare professionals as well as parents and families.

Visit our learning back here.

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We would love to keep in touch to tell you about what's happening in our creative programmes supporting children and teenagers managing long-term health conditions across Ireland to access a meaningful creative and social outlet. We will also send you details from time to time on our events, fundraising activities, funding and sector news.

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Contact Us
+ 353 (0) 44 93 96 960


Helium Arts is a registered charity and compliant with the requirements of the Charities Regulator, the national regulatory authority for charities in Ireland


CHY Number: 19236
Registered Charity Number (RCN): 20075200
Companies Registration Office: 486621


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Helium Arts
Top Floor
22 Pearse Street
Co. Westmeath
N91 VYP0



This website has been part funded by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.