A small group of children from a local primary school in Hitchin became the first to graduate from a ground-breaking pilot project at Garden House Hospice Care on Friday, April 5th.
Eight students from Year 5 at William Ransom’s Primary School were awarded certificates and goodie bags following their participation in the first Hawthorne Schools Project which ran on a Friday afternoon over a three-week period.
Organised and co-ordinated by Garden House Hospice Care, the aim of the project is to bring patients and school pupils from Year 5 (aged nine to ten) together to help build links, raise awareness and address misconceptions in the community about the Hospice’s work.
Sue Plummer, CEO at Garden House Hospice Care, said:
“We organised this project to encourage healthier attitudes toward life-limiting illnesses, dying and death and to introduce schools to hospice care in a safe and non-threatening environment.
“The children were encouraged to ask patients questions about their illnesses and experiences under the support and guidance of our staff. It was wonderful and very moving at times to see the children interacting with our day services patients.”
The course included a tour of the Hospice where pupils met staff from different departments and learnt about the immune system and the importance of good hand hygiene in a ‘Germ Fairy’ Workshop. They also worked on art and craft activities with their partners.
Susannah Parry, Community Engagement Schools & Colleges Co-ordinator, said:
“Seeing our Hawthorne Day Services patients working with the children over the last three weeks has been very special indeed. It was wonderful to see the different generations having fun together, whilst at the same time learning more about how we support our local community and what it can be like to live with a life-limiting condition.
“Each activity is carefully linked to the PSHE National Curriculum, including very subtle messages about loss and bereavement which is covered in Key Stage 2. We were so happy to welcome the children to the Hospice and feel that everyone has benefitted from this project.”
Julie Hall, Year 5 teacher at William Ransom Primary School, added:
“ It’s been fabulous to watch the children building relationships with the patients and adults they don’t know over the last three weeks. They have learnt so much, in particular about science, the immune system, medical equipment and germs. They have also talked about worries and loss. The programme has really helped to take the stigma away from the Hospice being a sad place – it is one that can be fun and full of laughter.”
There are plans to roll the programme out from September. Primary schools in the North Herts and Stevenage area who may be interested in taking part can contact Susannah Parry for more information by calling 01462 679540 or via email Susannah.firstname.lastname@example.org