Inspirational Leeds Children's Hospital patients help disadvantaged pre-schoolers through global school project

Young patients at Leeds Children’s Hospital took part in a global schools project for the first time  - offering a welcome distraction from their treatments.

Friday, 26th March 2021, 6:00 am

The hospital’s on-site school - the Medical Needs Teaching Service, provided by the East Specialist Inclusive Learning Centre (East SILC) - offered children on the wards the chance to join in an international project as part of the UN’s ‘World’s Largest Lesson’ scheme.

Its project, called Global Goals, assigned topics to classrooms around the world - with Leeds Children’s Hospital the first ‘hospital school’ to ever take part.

A group of ten children - all either hospital in-patients or supported by the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) at nearby Little Woodhouse Hall - took part in the six-week project alongside their treatments.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Hospital teacher Hannah Clay, with some of the story sacks and resources made by children at Leeds Children's Hospital as part of a global project. Picture: Tony Johnson

Having been given the global goal of ‘quality education’, they chose to study the needs of disadvantaged pre-school children and, after linking up with Leeds charity Zarach, which helps Leeds children in poverty, came up with the idea of ‘story sacks’.

Each sack is based on a well-known children’s story and contains learning activities and games created by the children, such as hand puppets and jigsaw puzzles.

One of the patients, Michael Vu, took a lead role in the project while he was in hospital for ongoing chemotherapy following a diagnosis of Osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer, in June last year.

The 17-year-old, from Scarbrough, said he liked being “part of something big, across the hospital” and enjoyed working on and developing the ideas.

Michael Vu, 17, one of the patients involved in the project at Leeds Children's Hospital. Pictured with a story sack he stencilled.

“Doing a project while having chemotherapy is very tiring but I definitely enjoyed doing it and it made my time here worthwhile.”

He added: “I like helping people in general so it was fun to do a project focused around that, helping disadvantaged youths who may not have access to quality education.”

Hannah Clay, primary teacher at Leeds Children’s Hospital, said the project provided much-needed positivity among the many negatives children have to deal with in hospital, especially with the increased isolation from Covid which has closed the school’s ‘Learning Zone’ in the Clarendon Wing and moved all lessons bed-side.

She said: “It was nice to bring them together. They could send videos of work they have done and felt they were working on something together and making a difference together - and make friends while they were in hospital.”

Some of the resources the children on the wards made for disadvantaged pre-school children.

She said: “We teach all ages in the hospital but we never know who is going to be in that day. “We had lots of different young people from different wards work on it together.

“We emailed some local charities regarding a possible partnership, which is how our link with Zarach came about. They have been fantastic and had zoom meetings with our young people to share their ideas and ask questions about their charity.”

Hannah added: “We were the first hospital school to take part in the project, which the organisers are very excited about having us join in and hope to use us as a model for the future.”

The bags will now be handed over to Zarach to distribute to families in need in Leeds.

An alphabet jigsaw was among the activities made by patients at Leeds Children's Hospital.

Support the YEP and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to local news and the latest on Leeds United, With a digital subscription, you see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Click here to subscribe.