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A dose of laughter and learning

Children in hospital are feeling the benefits of an arts and education drive. Elizabeth Buie reports

Children in hospital are feeling the benefits of an arts and education drive. Elizabeth Buie reports

Laughing with clowns, painting and playing music are all part of a new arts and education drive at Crosshouse Hospital in Kilmarnock.

Carole Kerr, a teacher based at Crosshouse, says: "Young people who are in hospital have a quicker recovery when they are actively and mentally engaged in fun activities."

A recent NHS Ayrshire and Arran survey showed that 65 per cent of children under 15 felt anxious and bored while in the wards.

As part of a Healthy Educational Arts Relaxation Therapy (Heart) project, run by the council's education department and the NHS, artists have been coming into wards to work with young people. Medical staff have given their full support as they believe in the therapeutic effects of arts and cultural activity.

The artists attend hospital at times to fit around clinics, meals and visits. They lead a variety of activities such as music making, storytelling, mosaics and card making.

"Young people who are returning in-patients often miss out on creative school experiences such as concerts, theatrical productions and other artistic opportunities," says Ms Kerr. "This goes some way towards redressing the balance."

Sessions planned for the future include animation, silk painting - and even visits from Clowndoctors, colourful, professional performers who are specially trained to work with vulnerable people. They use improvisation, music, song, dance, magic, puppetry, games and take the lead from any enthusiasms that pop up, such as a love of football, dancing or computer games.

Visual artist Debbie Campbell says: "All the children at Crosshouse Hospital, particularly those who were in longer term, were delighted to have the opportunity to work on a creative collage and mosaic project and produce small pieces of artwork for their friends and family."

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