Art by children with life-limiting conditions reveals their fears and wishes

Categories: Care, Featured, and People & Places.

A new collection of art produced by children with life-limiting conditions reveals how they’d like to be remembered when they die.

The aim of This is Me is to give vulnerable and often isolated children and young people a chance to share how they feel about their life, as well as how their condition affects them. It has also enabled many to think about how they would like to be remembered. As one young person shared: “Illness has shown me I can be more than one thing, it has made me live every single day (even if that day is in bed) as if there is no tomorrow.”

The artwork for This is Me has been designed by children and young people with serious illnesses, sometimes with help from family members and carers. The collection includes poems, vlogs, paintings, drawings and photographs, and was generously funded by the Flourish Arbonne Foundation.

It’s been launched by children’s palliative care charity Together for Short Lives in response to a call from children and young people to have an outlet for their artwork and creative writing, which can act as a coping strategy if they’re feeling isolated. The project also encouraged young people to demonstrate what is important to them, how they feel about their future and to focus on their ambitions, interests and thoughts in the most creative way possible.

The exhibition of their artworks was due to be unveiled to palliative care health care professionals from across the world at the Together for Short Lives’ conference in March, but this was sadly postponed due to COVID-19.

Lizzie Chambers, Director of Programmes at Together for Short Lives said: “Many young people with life-limiting illnesses are isolated, with few opportunities to socialise and to express their thoughts and feelings – even more so at this current time. This project has been a great focus for many of these young people as we know that being creative and innovative is good for mental health.

“Many of them worked alongside their family members or carers to produce their creations and we have been amazed by the amount of submissions we have received. We know that it is extremely disappointing that the exhibition will not be open for others to view publicly but we hope that all those who submitted a piece will be proud to view their artwork online via our digital anthology.”

The project has been led from the start by a group of young people themselves. These ‘curators’ encouraged other young people to take part in the project and have worked with Together for Short Lives to put the digital collection together. One of the curators, Hannah Hodgson, said:

“The This is Me project is even more topical at what is an extremely anxious time for children and young people with life-limiting illnesses. The children and young people that submitted to this project live with an existential fear hovering over them. This project shows that even during fear there is laughter and beauty in the smallest moments.” 

For more information visit Together for Short Lives

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