children, the Mayor and patients

A PROJECT exploring what joy means to school pupils and to hospice users has resulted in an exhibition at Wigan and Leigh Hospice.

The Joy Project launched at the hospice on Monday night (October 14th) when The Mayor of Wigan, Coun Stephen Dawber, was invited to officially open the exhibition.

St Wilfrid’s Primary School

Some 58 pupils from St Wilfrid’s Primary School in Standish worked alongside people who use the hospice’s day service – the Oak Centre – to create the exhibition which featured both photographs and poetry on the subject of Joy.

To launch the exhibition children from the school sang three songs with members of the hospice choir which includes patients, carers, volunteers and staff.

The Mayor of Wigan then cut a cake to declare the Joy Project open.

He said: “I think it’s wonderful to see the collaboration between the children and the people at the hospice. To spend time with another generation is really good for the kids and as I look around all I see is smiles on everyone’s faces. The hospice is really a happy positive place.”

Objects bringing joy

Pupils visited the Oak Centre in groups once a term and brought with them items which gave them joy, including medals, books and soft toys. Several Oak Centre members also brought in objects which gave them joy and between them the pupils and patients discussed why the objects meant joy to them, photographed the items and wrote poetry on the theme of joy.

Lucy Atkinson, Creative Therapies Co-ordinator at the Oak Centre, said: “We found that although people brought in various objects they associated with joy the same themes always cropped up – friends, family, relationships – as the things that brought us joy. No matter how old or young you are joy comes from the same things.”

Debbie Hilton, 47, from Hindley is the daughter of Dudley Owens who attends the Oak Centre regularly and took part in The Joy Project. His item was a photograph of him and his wife.

Debbie said: “My mum who died two years ago was called Joy so this was a really special project for both of us. For us it was all about my mum so it has been really emotional. Every word that was used to describe ‘joy’ was a word we would use to describe my mum. It’s given my dad a chance to talk about her and we feel she has been a part of the project even though she’s not here.”

Joy is celebrated

Alan Baron, Chief Executive of the hospice said: “It’s always wonderful to witness projects like this which span the generations. Projects like this also dispel some of the myths about what a hospice is like. There’s a fear of hospices, people often think they are going to be dark and foreboding places but I think this project will mean people leave with memories that this is a place of happiness and where joy is celebrated.”

Headteacher of St Wilfrid’s, Stuart Colothan, said: “The children have loved the experience – they’ve got so much out of it. When they mentioned this idea I was I was a little unsure but it has been such a valuable experience and when they’ve come back to school they have been so enthusiastic and shared their stories with their peers.”

The Oak Centre is open to people from Wigan Borough who have progressive, incurable illnesses.

Anyone who would like to see The Joy Project or is interested in attending the Oak Centre can visit the centre on Mondays and Wednesdays 10.30am to 12pm or Tuesdays 1pm to 3pm.