05/08/2021

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‘Bravery and courage of children’ - Portarlington school connects with Portlaoise hospital

Art Project donated to Paediatric Unit in Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise by 4th Class students of Portarlington Presentation Primary School

Portarlington Portlaoise

Portarlington Presentation Primary School pupil Saoirse Ryan with her teacher and Portlaoise hospital staff

A unique art project has been unveiled at the Paediatric Unit in Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise.

The project is a series of artworks by the 4th Class students of Portarlington Presentation Primary School, inspired by their classmate who has undergone treatment in the hospital. Each piece of art signifies the resilience, courage and bravery of the children attending the Paediatric Unit in Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise.

Saoirse Ryan, a student in 4th Class in Portarlington Presentation Primary School, recently underwent a bone marrow transplant in Childrens Health Ireland at Crumlin while the Paediatric Unit in Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise supported her recovery. On returning to school Saoirse proposed and developed an art project with her teacher Jenny Kelly and classmates.

The project was inspired by the “Beads of Courage” project. “Beads of Courage” enables children to tell their story using colourful beads as meaningful symbols of courage that commemorate milestones along their unique treatment path. MORE BELOW PICTURE

Pictured: Saoirse Ryan admiring her own artwork on display with teacher Jenny Kelly. Saoirse’s piece is a turtle which signifies protection
and nurturing and a reminder that your home is always near.

The international programme helps to decrease distress, increases positive coping strategies and helps children find meaning in illness. Children have something tangible they can use to explain their experiences.

The children adapted the idea and displayed the philosophy of care and healing through the medium of art.

The art project was officially unveiled by Sandra McCarthy, Director of Nursing at Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise, Saoirse Ryan, her mother Sinead Walsh and her teacher Jenny Kelly with the Paediatric Unit staff. The artworks are currently on display throughout the Paediatric Unit in Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise. MORE BELOW PICTURE.

From left to right: Sinead Walsh; Jenny Kelly, 4th Class Teacher at Portarlington Presentation Primary School; Sandra McCarthy, Director of Nursing,Maura Rice, Assistant Director of Nursing, Berna Keating, CNM2 Paediatric Unit; Saoirse Ryan; and Elaine O' Brien-Doyle, Acute Paediatric Link Nurse(CNSp), MRHP.

The Director of Nursing extended her thanks and praise.

“We are so grateful to Saoirse and all her classmates for this wonderful art project that we are proudly displaying in our Paediatric Unit in Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise. The collaboration which took place between Saoirse and the school is truly outstanding. It really shows the courage and determination displayed by Saoirse and her family to embrace the philosophy of “Beads of Courage”, said Ms McCarthy.

Elaine O' Brien-Doyle is Acute Paediatric Link Nurse(CNSp) at at the Laois hospital.

“Through Saoirse’s leadership, she has won the support of her teacher and classmates to embrace a project which reflects the resilience, courage and bravery of the children that we see every day in our Paediatric Unit and it is humbling for it to also reflect gratitude from our community for the care that we provide,” she said. MORE BELOW PICTURE.

From left to right: Nicola Smith, Staff Nurse; Dr Niall Vaughan, SHO; Dr Genoveva Balanica, Paediatric Consultant; and Lesly Levingston, Staff Nurse, all from Paediatric Unit, MRHP with Saoirse Ryan.

Saoirse thanked the staff and her school.

“I would like to say a big thank you to all of the staff in Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise which feels like home when I’m there. I am very grateful to my teacher and all of my friends for putting this all together for such a wonderful place in the hope that it will make someone’s stay in hospital a bit brighter,” she said

Sinead Walsh, mother of Saoirse, commented on the care her daughter received at Portlaoise hospital.

“Saoirse always felt very safe in Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise. The staff should be very proud of themselves as they always made my daughter feel secure,” she said.

“The aim of the project is to give something back to the Paediatric Unit that supported Saoirse through her journey.

“Saoirse and her class have underpinned their project with the “Beads of Courage” program where every time a bead is given: courage is honoured, suffering is alleviated, resilience is strengthened, and the experience of human caring is affirmed.

“The ambition of the project is to reward those that have supported others through challenging times, to demystify medical centres and encourage children to be comfortable through hospital/ medical journeys.

“By providing this work and exploring children’s experiences in their local hospital hopefully helping children not to be scared if they need to attend the Paediatric Unit at Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise in particular. They also feel it is a way to celebrate Saoirse’s journey through illness and return to normal life,” she said. MORE BELOW PICTURE.

Pictures are: Saoirse Ryan with teacher Jenny Kelly and nurse Sinead Walsh. 

Jenny Kelly is fourth class teacher at Portarlington Presentation Primary School.

“Instead of beads the children used different forms of colour and animals to express the philosophy of care and healing through the medium of art. This project taken on by 4th class has infused all students and families with excitement, care and love. We incorporated it as part of the curriculum this year and students diligently put in hours of school and leisure time into it,” she said.

Beads of Courage Paediatric Oncology Programme in Ireland at Children's Health Ireland at Crumlin is funded by the Childhood Cancer Foundation Ireland.

There are more than 400 children enrolled on this programme from all over Ireland.

More pictures below:

4th Class students of Portarlington Presentation Primary School displaying their art project that they donated to the Paediatric Unit

Pictured aboved: Elaine O'Brien Doyle APLN and Saoirse

From left to right: Sandra McCarthy, Director of Nursing, MRHP; Maura Rice, Assistant Director of Nursing, MRHP; Jenny Kelly, 4th Class Teacher at Portarlington Presentation Primary School; Saoirse Ryan; Sinead Walsh; Elaine O' Brien-Doyle, Acute Paediatric Link Nurse(CNSp), MRHP; Dr Muhammad Tariq, Consultant Paediatrician, MRHP; Berna Keating, CNM2 Paediatric Unit, MRHP.

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