Families welcome Hospice’s Christmas party with a difference

Categories: Care.

Sensory fun and music were among activities enjoyed by children and families as Hospice in the Weald for Children hosted its very first Christmas party.

The special event offered children with life-limiting and life-threatening illnesses, who are supported by the Children’s team, the rare opportunity to participate in Christmas festivities specially designed for them.  Hospice in the Weald launched the service for children and young people in January to help meet the growing need for support across west Kent and East Sussex.

The Children’s team and staff from across the Hospice offered an array of activities, from decorating festive biscuits to enjoying the ‘Magic Carpet’, an interactive projection that displays motion-responsive games and activities for children of all ages and abilities.

The Hospice’s Creative Musician and volunteers kept spirits up with live musical performances and children could meet Santa in a relaxed environment thanks to Once Upon A Wish Events.

A highlight was a show performed by entertainers from Embracing Arts, a charity that creates magical theatrical experiences for children with special educational needs and/or life-limiting conditions. Full of sensory play and music, the performers ensured everyone was involved in the show by using keyword signing, lights, textures, props, and instruments.

Emma, mum to two-year-old Ophelia, said: “We’ve never been to anything like this before, so tailored to Ophelia’s needs. The entertainers came up to each child which is just what Ophelia needs to properly catch her attention. Father Christmas’s presents were even tailored to each child. It made me feel quite emotional to be able to attend something that was so inclusive.  And it was so nice to be able to meet other families too.”

Colin and his wife Alison are foster carers for an 11-year-old boy. Colin said: “It was lovely. It is a challenge to find appropriate things for our foster son to do, so it means a lot to be able to come to something like this and know he will be accepted for who he is. Sensory activities are just his thing, so he was able to really engage, and we felt looked after as well.”

Jess Farmer, Hospice Children’s Support Worker, said: “We know how difficult it can be for the families we work with to find the right activities and environment for their child so wanted to host a Christmas party just for them. It was wonderful to see them celebrate together. Special thanks to Embracing Arts, Once Upon A Wish Events, and the Jay Harmer Foundation for kindly donating gifts.”

The team currently offers home visits for respite sessions, hospital visit support, talking therapies, bereavement support, memory making, home music therapy, and assistance for children at school, with plans to further grow the service in the coming year.

Tracy Smith, Head of Service for Children and Young People, said: ”Hospice in the Weald for Children has gone from strength to strength since we launched in January and the Christmas party was the perfect way to celebrate. We have lots of exciting plans next year and are now looking for more team members, including additional support workers and paediatric nurses, so we can make a difference to the lives of even more children and young people. We’d love to hear from anyone interested in working with us, so do get in touch to find out more.”

Visit https://www.hospiceintheweald.org.uk/for-children/ for more details.

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