Sheffield Children’s Hospital’s has worked with illustration duo Pencil and Help to transform its Medical Daycare department into a welcoming environment where children can enjoy a game of hide and seek.
The project was facilitated by Artfelt, which is the Children’s Hospital Charity’s arts programme and works on behalf of Sheffield Children’s Hospital.
Co-designing with children
Pencil and Help’s Mark Oliver and Mark Long first lead a workshop with patients asking them to help design characters that might enjoy a giant game of hide and seek.
Oliver and Long helped the children refine their ideas and bring them to life. One patient – 8 year old Phoebe – is treated regularly in the department for juvenile arthritis.
She created Coloray, a creature with long legs and an eye in its tummy and said of her creation it is a “silly character” who is “just average at hiding.”
Elswhere children can look for Wheeler – a red character on wheels – Bacon Eater, who we are told is greedy, purple and likes to hide in bathrooms, as well as Bongy, who is pink and can become invisible whenever she wants.
Working with the building
The design weaves around hospital equipment and Oliver says this “allowed us to work with the building itself and create a narrative where characters were hiding in alcoves and spaces.”
Artfelt manager Cat Powell says that Pencil and Help have “an excellent track record when it comes to collaborating with children”.
Powell says: “They came up with the idea of creating a hide and seek game that develops as you go through the department. You come into the lobby area where Wheeler is there counting down, and all the other characters are running off and hiding.
“The idea is that kids can go on different routes to find the characters, with some being repeated to ensure that they have a good chance of spotting them all.”
Children can “control hospital experience”
Powell stresses that all of the projects that Artfelt has brought to the Sheffield Children’s Hospital involve or consult children in some way as this process “helps them feel control over their hospital experience and like the space has been tailored for them.”