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Rowan Murphy with his mum, Helium Arts artist Chelsea Canavan, who are from Limerick, with Monica Flynn, curator with Helium Arts. Photo credit: Julien Behal Rowan Murphy with his mum, Helium Arts artist Chelsea Canavan, who are from Limerick, with Monica Flynn, curator with Helium Arts. Photo credit: Julien Behal

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Helium Arts’ Creative Health programme, which runs in Limerick hospitals and the community celebrates five years

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Helium Arts Creative Health programme celebrates 5 years. Rowan Murphy with his mum, Helium Arts artist Chelsea Canavan, who are from Limerick, with Monica Flynn, curator with Helium Arts. Photo: Julien Behal

Helium Arts celebrates five years of its Creative Health programme, which runs in hospitals and community settings in Limerick

Helium Arts celebrates five years of its Creative Health programme, which runs in hospitals and community settings in Limerick
Helene Hugel, CEO, Helium Arts, Dr Pamela O’Connor, Consultant Neonatologist Paediatrician working in Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) at Crumlin and The Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, Dublin, and Dr Judith Meehan, Dean of the Faculty of Paediatrics, Royal College of Physicians in Ireland. Photo: Julien Behal

Helium Arts, the children’s charity committed to improving the wellbeing of children and young people living with lifelong physical health conditions – recently celebrated five years of its Creative Health programme, which runs in hospitals and community settings in Limerick.

The charity also recently announced the expansion of its Creative Health programme to hospital and community settings in Dublin, establishing it as a nationwide organisation.

The programme has already been running in hospital and community settings in Cork, Limerick and the Mid West since 2019, in Galway and the West since then, and it is also offered online.


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In Dublin, the programme is initially being rolled out at Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) at Connolly in Blanchardstown and Children’s Health Ireland (CHI) at Tallaght, in partnership with the CHI Arts in Health Programme.

The programme provides free, artist-led creative workshops in hospital paediatric outpatient clinics to children and young people living with lifelong physical health conditions. Following the hospital-based workshops, participants can be referred to Helium Arts’ community and online programmes, which include free workshops and camps during school holidays and weekends. These workshops, led by professional artists, provide on-site medical support and are accessible to participants with a variety of needs.

Supported conditions include diabetes, epilepsy, cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy, allergies, heart conditions, asthma, spina bifida, juvenile arthritis, rare or complex conditions and many more.

Helium Arts will run an in-person summer camp for young people aged 13-16 from 1st -3rd July in Limerick City Gallery of Art. An additional in-person summer camp for children aged 8-12 will be available from 16th -18th July in Dooradoyle Library, Crescent Shopping Centre.

Free online Creative Arts summer camps are also available for children with lifelong physical health conditions, including in Limerick, in July.

To register and for further information about the summer camps, visit www.helium.ie.

Speaking from the five-year celebration event, CEO of Helium Arts, Helene Hugel, said: “As we celebrate five years of our Creative Health programme, including in hospitals and in the community in Limerick, we’re excited to expand the reach of our hospital-based programmes nationwide. In Ireland, 156,437 or 12% of all children and teenagers live with the effects of illness or disability every day. This key step in our national growth means that even more children can have improved outcomes in health, wellbeing, social connection and creative expression.

“Our new partnership with the CHI Arts in Health Programme is a testament to the strength of community and collaboration that drives us forward to improve access to creative opportunities for more children living with chronic health conditions.”

Sheila O’Brien is mum to Saoirse aged 15 who has hydrocephalus. Speaking at a recent event to launch the programme nationwide, Sheila said: “Saoirse has been lucky enough to participate in Helium Arts’ creative programme since its foundation. At that time, she was struggling to find her place within her peer group and couldn’t join sports groups like her peers. Her participation in Helium has evolved her imagination, and filled her with confidence and courage. She is now a member of their Youth Advisory Group. Helium has transformed my daughter’s outlook and for that I am eternally grateful.”

According to Helium Arts’ latest impact report for 2023*, children and young people living with lifelong physical health conditions can often experience stigma, isolation, loneliness and anxiety, and its Creative Health programme uses creativity to inspire these children to feel more confident. By empowering them with tools such as friendship, community and new skills, the programme helps these children to become more prepared and capable of overcoming adversity.

Read the impact report here
Readm ore Helium Arts stories here

Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the ilovelimerick.com concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.