life-threatening illnesses, grief and bereavement
Back in 1989, Wolf + Water (then the “Common Sense Project”) began its first collaboration with the Royal Devon & Exeter Wonford Hospital in running an annual residential weekend for children with cancer & leukemia. Since then this work has become an annual part of the Wolf & Water calender & has expanded through the help of BBC Children in Need to cover hospitals across the South West region, working with children with cancer & leukemia, their siblings & families, as well as developing work with children with other life threatening illnesses too.
The residential weekends bring young people into fantastical worlds where anything is possible. Strange characters encourage young people who are usually on the receiving end of treatment to collaborate to use their energy & imagination to help solve mysterious scenarios using a whole host of arts techniques ranging from drama & dance to printing making & pottery.
Whether it’s helping the (not so) famous & (even less) talented El Ploppo acrobatic troupe find their missing sister, or helping the strange old sea dog Captain Hesperus to discover who has been stealing objects from his museum & why, all the scenarios that Wolf + Water present to the young people are carefully crafted to allow them to explore & address pertinent issues to their conditions - such as loss, grief, sibling rivalry & “being different or special” - in a safe & creative way, allowing children & their families to encounter their own fears & strengths, their capacity for sharing both laughter & tears.
Wolf + Water are able to work with all but the frailest of young people, creating scenarios where each & every person can play a part, regardless of their physical difficulties or shyness.
Besides these residential weekends, Wolf + Water have developed projects for bereaved siblings allowing participants to use arts techniques in creating rituals & ceremonies to remember brothers & sisters, celebrate their lives & look forward to the future.
Wolf & Water has also performed for professional conferences such as the Marie Curie Cancer Care Conference (2000, London) with a show on child bereavement, & the Sargent Cancer Care National Conference (2000, Birmingham) on some of the difficult practical & ethical dilemmas facing Sargent Cancer Care staff in their work.
“Running with the Pack” A video detailing some of Wolf + Water’s work with young people with cancer & leukemia & their families is available through our shop.
“Lots of images from the weekend that you & your colleagues organised so brilliantly will stay with me; a testement to the impact of care & thought that went into creating the weekend”
Co-ordinator, Teenage Oncology Project, Bristol