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The Arts continue to grow at Grace House

19 April 2016

This month has seen the beginning of our New Leaf participatory arts project at Grace House with artist Gilly Rogers delivering exciting, interactive, accessible art workshops to redesign part of the Grace House gardens. The project was developed with support from The Cultural Spring, an Arts Council funded project working in Sunderland and South Tyneside.

Grace House is a Sunderland based children’s charity providing services to children and young people with complex disabilities, health needs and life limiting conditions and their families. Based in a purpose-built, state of the art facility in Southwick, and set in its own extensive gardens, Grace House is a fully accessible, interactive, fun and lively place for children to come and stay, to take advantage of the fantastic play and leisure facilities on site, both in and outdoors. 

However, we realised that one area of our gardens was in need of re-development. The Snowflake Garden was originally designed to be a private area of calm and contemplation for recently bereaved families. However, due to medical advances, many of the children with life limiting conditions now live into early adulthood and beyond, so Grace House has undergone its own transformation, in becoming a place where children with complex disabilities and medical conditions come to live life to the full. 

We therefore wanted to re-imagine this area of garden to be a cool, fun, chill-out space for teenagers with complex disabilities. The theme is an outdoor music festival. Think Glastonbury – the Field of Avalon, the Green Fields, and Shangri-la. A space that can stimulate all the senses, bringing the outdoors in and the indoors out. Mixing music and visual arts, and playing with colour, texture, shape and sound.

Over the next few weeks Gilly will facilitate interactive art workshops for members of the Grace House care team, the children who use Grace House and our team of community garden volunteers to enable them to re-imagine, invent and re-design this area of our garden. The workshops will play with ideas and develop the design, inspiration and concepts for the new garden that can then be translated into landscaping and planting in a subsequent project.

We then hope that the New Leaf project will dovetail nicely with another of our innovative projects – our Corporate Volunteering package, to see the ideas and designs made into reality. By enabling small teams of employees to come and volunteer at Grace House for a day, local businesses can help transform our gardens while giving their employees the opportunity to participate in a worthwhile community project with a real purpose and clear end goal that will make a huge difference to the lives of disabled children at Grace House. 

Get Involved

Volunteers will get all the benefits of team building in a different environment, as we aim to inspire confidence in their own abilities, engage them in creative problem solving tasks, give them the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and reduce the risk of stress and burn out. 

We are therefore seeking companies who have teams of up to 8 people who could be released from work for a day, to come and volunteer at Grace House and contribute to the Glastonbury garden transformation. Volunteering days will be available on selected dates between April and October 2016. For more information ring 0191 525 2885


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