EVS literally means European Volunteering Service and is an opportunity that the Europe gives to youngsters to challenge themselves and grow up and it is a good learning experience. Starting from this I would like to share today about my personal experience in an EVS that is about working with children. Our tasks were all about pedagogic and clinical animation and this is what I want to talk about: the clinical animation.
It might sound easy, going to hospitals and play a bit with children. A fairy tale, ah? It was maybe the hardest but the most beautiful experience in my period here in Romania. It is all about thinking the best activity to do, in which hospital is more suitable, because each were different from each other. An activity you could do in one of those hospitals, could not be done into another one. And this is still not the reason why it was a challenge. The real challenge is to laugh and be happy and smiling even if who is in front of you is not because of the reason why he/she is there.
So now let’s find out how it works: four volunteers (sometimes more, it is random) prepare the activities to make in that hospital. It can be handcraft, songs, dances or games in general depending by the typology of illness the children have in hospitals. The handcrafts are my favourite because basically it leaves something more to the children than only the memory of volunteers coming and playing together. They will have something done by them together with the volunteer.
About the games we usually make the ones that we used to play when we were young and sharing with a new generation of children the games of our infancy is something amazing.
Then we arrive to the hospital and start with what we planned, in case some children don’t want to do what we planned, we should be flexible and change plans. Or sometimes we can split and do different things in the same time.
But what really stays with us? Memories. Smiles.
Krizia in Vitamin T 17 (from Associazione Culturale Link, Italy)
My experience in the hospital: first impressions and general facts
My first day in the hospital was definitely not as I expected. It was strange and confusing, especially at first but surprising among all. My expectations were completely turned upside down because I kind of had this specific image of a big white hospital in mind that I couldn’t get rid of.
Of course, I was stressed because I was about to experience my first clinical animation in a hospital full of kids who didn’t speak the same language as me. Although this is challenging (and sometimes frustrating, because you cannot understand what they are asking for), this is most of the time manageable.
When we arrived, the kids were waiting for us and eager to play so when we started the games they showed a lot of enthusiasm. Some of them had sometimes difficulties to play by the rules because they were less accustomed to share the attention and to play altogether evenly.
After you succeed to find the right strategy to channel their energy on what you’re suggesting them to do, when you feel that you have their attention then you can really start to build something and make a creative activity with them.
Sometimes when you are in the middle of an activity and that all the kids are absorbed by it, you experience this magical instant when you feel that you are in the right place at the right moment. It makes you happy just to be among them when they are just enjoying the activity you provide them or simply their time with you. When you come to realise that, you almost forget that you are in a hospital and that if they are here it’s not because they are perfectly healthy.
The thing with the hospital is that you never really know how it’s going to be because every time it’s different. For example, one time you can have around 20 kids and the next one, less than 8. You should constantly adapt the games and activities according to the mood of the kids and their level of energy. But it also relies on the current situation (and the weather), for example if they just received their treatment or if it’s time to eat, if it’s the day when they are at school…
Anyway, if there is not a single similar day in the hospital, there is always one thing that you’ll find every time you go there: the joy the kids are experiencing when you spend time with them. This is for me the most rewarding thing as well as the hugs when you are about to leave!
Maud in Vitamin T17 (from Pistes Solidaires, France)