Children from Storrington Primary School visited St Barnabas House as part of a new project to educate children about the work of hospices.
Named St B’s, the project saw a group of 11 children visit the hospice every Monday afternoon for four weeks, working on projects with patients.
The course started with children and teachers being given a tour of the hospice and taking part in a quiz, before meeting the patients they would be working alongside for the first time.
Weeks two and three saw the children getting to know the patients while working on an art activity using ‘emotion masks’.
They were read a story and used the masks to show the emotions they would be feeling during that time.
The children were read books such as Michael Rosen’s ‘Sad Book’, illustrated by Quentin Blake, and ‘The Huge Bag of Worries’ by Virginia Ironside, which explore different concepts around life and death and the worries associated with dying.
Week four concluded with a party to celebrate the end of the course, to which parents of children were invited and the children were awarded a certificate by St Barnabas House chief executive Hugh Lowson, and were given goody bags.
Marcelle Palmer, St B’s Project Lead, explained the main aim of the new pilot project was to enable St Barnabas House to reach out to more people in the local community, by helping to educate local children about the work of hospices and living with a life-limiting condition.
She said: “The project is for 9-10 year old schoolchildren and will allow patients and children from local schools to work collaboratively, in a non-threatening environment, to introduce hospice care and to enable children to explore concepts around life, death and dying.
“The model involves hospice patients and children working together on an art project and addresses national curriculum requirements such as loss and transition and exploring emotions and bereavement.
“This learning activity has already been piloted by Oakhaven Hospice, in the New Forest, with very successful results.
“I would like to thank them for their very generous support with the project.”
Marcelle added that she has had some very positive feedback about the course already, including from one family whose lives have changed as a result.
She said: “The mother of one of the children who took part in the course explained that, as a result of the St B’s project, her mother found the courage to speak to her granddaughter about her breast cancer.”
All of the children for the pilot project, which ends in March, will be from Storrington Primary School.
If the project proceeds beyond the current pilot, St Barnabas House will be opening up the experience to other primary schools in the area.
If you would like to find out more, you can contact Marcelle at Marcelle.Palmer@stbh.org.uk or by calling 01903 706357.
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