Leah, Ellie and Amelia’s StoryFinding friendships that last
No-one can remember when Helium Arts became an excuse for a day out, but they’re glad it did. For sisters Ellie and Leah, the creative arts workshops and camps were a great way to squeeze in a few extra hours with their new best friend, Amelia. For their mums, Helium was a chance to catch-up, take a breath, and just ‘be’.
They loved watching the girls plot their day together. There was no pretence here, no need to explain why. Ellie and Leah had been living with Ehler-Danlos syndrome all their lives, and Amelia with juvenile arthritis. The connection was instant. They all knew how it felt to live with an ‘invisible condition’. To never know when it would flare-up. To feel exhausted, and spend every day in pain. Even if everything looked fine.
“It can be very isolating. People don’t get it. From the outside, everything is perfect. On the inside, I know that Amelia’s world is crumbling. She misses out on so much. All three girls do.”
Tina (Amelia’s mum)
It’s why, when their physiotherapist suggested Helium Arts, the girls wanted to give it a try. Designed for young people with lifelong health conditions, here, it wouldn’t matter if they had to take time out. Acceptance and understanding, not to mention a paramedic, were part of the deal. It was the perfect escape. Whether they were making bird boxes or clay sculptures, Helium was a place where they could relax and be themselves – and it was here that their budding friendship really began to flourish.
“You don’t get the sense there’s any illness in that room. They’re always laughing and talking. It’s a place of play. Somewhere the girls can forget for a while.”
Mairead (Ellie and Leah’s mum)
They’ve been going together for six years now. There have been a lot of ups and downs in that time.
Good days, and bad. An important constant, through Helium the girls have found an essential creative and social outlet. And with just nine miles between them, they are now a regular part of each other’s lives. It’s been a welcome development for everyone, including their parents – who, like their children, have found an important and unconditional source of support.
“We’ll be friends for life. There are days when they are the only person who can get you through.
We’re there for each other. The girls are too.”
Tina and Mairead
It is a bond that has grown so strong, that when Ellie and Amelia start secondary school next year, their parents have made sure all three girls will be in the same place together. Each the others’ support, both families know that no matter what life throws at them, they will help each other through. And with their next session already booked, they know that Helium Arts will be there too.