National children’s charity Helium Arts has launched its ‘Create While You Wait’ outpatients programme in University Hospital Galway.
The programme sees bespoke creative activity packs designed by professional artist Yvonne Cullivan provided to children and young people while they wait to see a doctor or nurse.
Yvonne is also engaging with outpatients through the programme, which supports children and young people aged between 6 and 18 who are managing lifelong health conditions.
The initiative aims to help to brighten the atmosphere of waiting areas while also providing a distraction and relieving stress for children and families.
Yvonne Cullivan said that the effect of having an artist present in the outpatient waiting space is immediate.
“Staff and families alike are welcoming and willing to engage with me,” she said.
“Children and young people have the chance to play with materials, with me or their parents, to keep them focused and entertained.”
Yvonne said that she has seen this instantly calm children down and stop their tears if they have been distressed at all during their visit.
“Children and young people have been creating beautiful artworks with focus and pride, sometimes with their parents or guardians helping out.
“It is an opportunity for choice and expression for them and I feel that our engagement is really valuable in that moment.
“The space itself is brightened up with the beautiful images they create. It is really rewarding to see and feel the difference it makes to families to engage with me for those few minutes or hours of waiting.”
Consultants and hospital staff have commented on how beneficial it is to have this programme in their clinic waiting rooms.
Dr Annette Murphy, Head Consultant, said that children are relaxed and less intimidated because of the initiative.
Helene Hugel, founder and CEO of Helium Arts added: “Nurturing creativity through the arts is shown to improve coping skills, wellbeing, stress and anxiety, as well as building confidence, self-worth and a sense of hope.
“At Helium Arts, we are driven by the idea that healthcare will always be about more than treating the condition – it is about supporting people. And as we have seen throughout the pandemic, the arts play a vital role in supporting people, both their individual and their community wellbeing.”
The launch of this programme at UHG was made possible through funding received from the Community Foundation for Ireland and the RTÉ Toy Show Appeal.
To find out more about the programme, or to refer a child, contact Helium Arts’ Family Liaison on firstname.lastname@example.org.