Developed as an educational initiative to challenge attitudes towards death and dying amongst young people within our local community, RocON! has far exceeded the rationale behind its inception – and continues to develop and evolve in surprising and unexpected ways.
Each project involves a hospice team that includes patients, carers and volunteers. Themes are based on school requirements to meet National Curricular targets, links are then found to issues relevant to service users and to the hospice environment. Experientially, using art and craft, we explore how we might live well with the challenges that life presents us. RocON!’s ethos is to ‘hold things lightly but to delve deep’ and we encourage open and honest dialogue and expression of emotions. Death is acknowledged as a normal outcome of life.
During the sessions, magic happens. Although there are times of sadness and poignancy, the focus is on fun and the hospice is filled with laughter. Patients and children form strong bonds and we witness a mutual exchange of wisdom, empathy and friendship. Validated as working members of the team, patients often report how good it feels to be useful and have purpose. Facilitated team time offers a forum to discuss fears and anxieties. On completion, we celebrate what we have achieved with families and stakeholders; a chance for the community to visit the hospice for a positive reason. We’ve become aware of a ‘ripple affect’ as children become hospice ambassadors, sharing learning within their own communities.
“They talk about the hospice/their partner, nonstop”! (Parents/teachers)
Through the eyes of children, RocON! is engaging local community, highlighting the role that hospices play in end of life care, addressing misconceptions and challenging us to consider how we might live well until we die – having as much fun as we can along the way.
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