Brazil Project – community engagement at its colourful best

Categories: Community Engagement.

The Yo-Yo Project, based at Farleigh Hospice, Chelmsford, supports children and young people aged 4 to 18 across mid-Essex who are facing the loss of someone significant or who are bereaved.

The service is open to any child or young person in the community; the person they have lost or will lose does not have to be a patient of the hospice. The Yo-Yo Project works with over 200 children a year and the majority of referrals come from schools.

We are always looking at ways to engage with our community and identified a need to build relationships with junior schools so that people are more aware of the services on offer, should a student be in need of counselling.

For a recent project, focused on Brazil, we contacted all 91 junior schools in the area to offer them the chance to take part. Eleven schools took part, half of which were schools we’d had no previous contact with.

We chose the theme of Brazil as the host nation for this year’s Olympics and recent football World Cup. It is a country full of colour and vitality which we felt the children would enjoy learning about.

We supplied an MDF cut out to each school in four shapes associated with Brazil – an outline of the country, the rain forest, a parrot and the mountain with the statue of Christ the Redeemer – and asked them to decorate it in any way they wished, to go wild and have fun!

I was amazed and very pleased at the results and the imagination the children displayed. They certainly went to town researching Brazil, its culture and history, and then had great fun decorating the cut outs.

Most were decorated front and back and some were added to and extended so much that it was hard to see what shape they had started with. They had so many clever ideas including using coffee beans, feathers and bottle tops. The feedback from the schools and children has been that they enjoyed taking part and being able to do what they wanted.

The decorated cut outs were on display at the hospice throughout May and June for patients, visitors and staff to enjoy. I received many lovely comments. The artworks have now been returned to the schools for them to display and we have attended school assemblies to issue certificates of achievement to all who took part.

This was a wonderfully successful and enjoyable event for all and Farleigh Hospice and the Yo-Yo Project service is now more widely known.