Helium Arts is an arts and health organisation which supports the well-being of children and young people in Ireland through award winning participatory arts programmes. Our creative projects take place in hospitals, health centres, and community settings around Ireland, transforming the healthcare experience of young people and those who care for them through art, imagination and fun. Since Helium was founded in 2009, over 3,000 young people and their families have participated in our programmes.
Our mission is to create positive experiences of hospital and healthcare settings for young people, to support a child-centred model of healthcare through the arts, and to develop models of arts practice which give a creative voice to young people living with illness.
Helium has a number of programmes outlined briefly below.
Heliums Artist in Residence programme sees an artist or artists work with a healthcare community over a number of months in a sustained engagement. During the first residency programme, the Puppet Portal Project (2009-2010), young people created puppets and shared their stories, performances and short films with peers in other hospitals via Áit Eile, an online live video-link facility developed by the Centre for Health Informatics at Trinity College, Dublin. The current phase of the Residence programme, Cloudlands, has been designed for teenagers with chronic illnesses, giving them the opportunity to connect with artists and their peers in other hospitals through the use of online resources and on-site workshops. Helium is supporting a community-based element to this programme through the Two Suitcases Project in which teenagers with chronic illnesses make their own films and animations in collaboration with professional artists.
Infant Imaginings, Heliums Community Health Programme, is an early years project which brings creative play to children aged 0-3 during Child Development Clinics in local health centres. Established in 2008, Infant Imaginings aims to promote relaxation, communication and learning between babies, toddlers and their parents through music, performance, puppetry and the visual arts.
Heliums Artist on Call programme has provided hospitals with regular performing artists on a once-off or short-term basis since 2009. Artists facilitate workshops or purpose-designed, site-specific performances which travel from bed to bed, and the programme incorporates storytelling, music, and portrait sketches.
Heliums Professional Development Programme offers training and support to artists and healthcare staff who wish to engage in arts and health practice. In 2011, Helium launched Irelands first REFLECT Lab in the Northwest, bringing together artists and healthcare workers to share skills and experience between the two sectors.