Stories in the Bag is a series of creative writing workshops in the Paediatrics Department of Cork University Hospital taking place this summer. As part of her Masters in Creative Writing at University College Cork Aoife O’ Leary an English Lecturer at Tralee Institute of Technology became a Writer in Residence at the Paediatrics Department in the Puffin Ward at Cork University Hospital (CUH). Aoife started her residency in late June and will continue in July 2016.
Aoife explains, “Working with kids and teenagers in the Puffin Ward. I had lots of different writing activities prepared for different age groups. I was pleasantly surprised at how engaged the kids were and how much they enjoyed it. One of the activities was ‘story bags’ where the kids got a bag filled with random objects. They had to use the objects to come up with a story. Another activity was ‘comic book strips’. Kids created their own superhero and put him/her into a comic book story. For older children, I had writing prompts and dialogue activities. It was fantastic too see the children using their imaginations to create new worlds and characters”.
Edelle Nolan, Arts Officer at CUH accompanied Aoife during the workshops, “As it was Aoife’s first time working with young people and also in a Healthcare setting, I wanted to personally introduce her to staff and parents and offer on-the-spot support if she needed it”. However Aoife had lots of research done and with all her experience in teaching adults she transferred her skills to young people so easily and I was amazed that almost all the children and teenagers that she approached, immediately said yes, when invited to participate. Some children who had said no, then changed their minds in the shared wards, when they saw and heard other children having so much fun.”
An advantage of this type of workshops is that it can be modified to suit all ages and abilities, for instance if participants have literacy difficulties they could still participate and tell their story or hear a parent or Aoife make a story up, if they could not speak. Some children had broken arms and could not write and could still join in, the workshops were all about stimulating the imagination and we are looking forward to more fun in the next few weeks ahead.
For further information on the arts programme at Cork University Hospital contact Arts Co-ordinator, Edelle Nolan by e-mailing Edelle.Nolan@hse.ie