A MURAL painted by patients with cleft conditions is bringing smiles to children visiting Torbay Hospital’s paediatric outpatients department.
The 6ft x 4ft piece of artwork, featuring a marine-life scene, was donated by the South West Cleft Unit at Frenchay Hospital, Bristol.
It was created at a summer term workshop supported by South West Cleft Psychology service by a group of Year 6 children with cleft lip and/or palate conditions, some of whom will be known to Torbay Hospital.
A plaque beneath the picture reads “…painted by Francesca, Kerri, Isobel, Jovi and Jack…..for all the children at Torbay Hospital”.
The cleft psychology service routinely invites Year 6 children and their parents to a social support group during the summer term helping to prepare them for secondary school.
This includes discussing concerns about teasing, staring, appearance-related issues, making friends and looking at ways of increasing self-confidence. Puppets, games and role play are used and the children also create a piece of art work with the support of Christine Howes, a Bristol-based artist.
The families are given booklets which summarise the advice given during the group, as well as a photograph of themselves taken whilst painting. The children and parents then reconvene during the autumn term when the art work is unveiled and there is an opportunity to discuss how they are adjusting to secondary school.
Torbay Hospital is one of several hospitals around the South West where art work from these groups is now displayed.
The groups have proved to be popular and effective in helping children with a sometimes difficult transition to the unfamiliar environment of a secondary school.
One child commented: “I liked talking about making new friends and what to do if people are bullying me.”
Roger Robinson, Consultant Orthodontist for Torbay Hospital said: “As a clinician who works within the SW Cleft Team here in Torbay, I am so grateful to Christine and the children who produced this lovely mural. I cannot think of a better place to display it than our fabulous new Paediatric Department!”
Dr Julia Cadogan, Consultant Clinical Psychologist with the South West Cleft Service, North Bristol Trust, Frenchay Hospital, said: “The South West Cleft psychology service aims to help children to feel confident about themselves and to help them to recognise that the similarities between them and other children are much greater than the differences.”