Children across Maidstone have been using their creativity to help Heart of Kent Hospice share how it supports families that are facing the challenges of living with a terminal illness.
The Learning Herd programme encouraged local schools and youth organisations from the local area to adopt, design and paint a small Elmer sculpture as part of Elmer’s Big Heart of Kent Parade taking place across the County town for nine weeks from 19 June.
Working closely with the Hospice, this initiative inspired children to get creative and encouraged teachers to develop the project into the curriculum, while raising the profile of local Hospice care and supporting young people who are living with loss.
The herd of 30 small Elmer sculptures – plus one specially designed for the Hospice – will be at several indoor locations, accompanying the main outdoor trail of large Elmer sculptures designed by local and national artists.
Karen Newton-Anker, Community Partnerships Manager at Heart of Kent Hospice said: “The Learning Herd programme has allowed our local schools to have enormous amounts of fun learning about art, exploring their own creativity and designing their own unique small Elmer. It has also given teachers and other staff the opportunity to have open conversations with children about death, dying and bereavement, which, when conducted sensitively in an age-appropriate way, help ensure that no child feels left out.”
The Learning Programme, based on original Elmer stories, celebrates different concepts relating to diversity and enabled children from local pre-schools, primary schools, Scouts, Brownies and Girlguiding groups to be inspired and get creative in fun, hands-on and inspirational arts activities.
The Parade’s Official Presenting Partner Westerhill Homes kindly gifted four small Elmer’s to local schools. Including Coxheath Primary School, who ran a competition across all year groups in the school. The winning design highlights how working together by not dropping litter, recycling as much as we can and reducing our overall waste, can make a difference to our planet.
The school’s resident artist, Becky Planck, said: “Many of the outstanding ideas followed a similar theme of the environment and plastic pollution in particular, so we amalgamated a few of the designs into the final version that was painted onto our baby Elmer.”
Ian Savage, CEO Westerhill Homes says “We are delighted to have been able to gift four small Elmer sculptures to local schools: Coxheath Primary School, Loose Primary School, Jubilee Primary School and Cornwallis Academy. Geographically three of these schools are within a short distance of our Head Office and we felt it was a fantastic way to help our local community and, as part of the Learning Herd the elephants will return to their schools and become a lasting legacy from this wonderful event.’
Elmer’s Big Heart of Kent Parade will run in Maidstone from 19 June to 22 August and is a collaboration between Heart of Kent Hospice, Wild in Art, Andersen Press and Official Presenting Partner Westerhill Homes. Heart of Kent Hospice hopes that by raising awareness it will encourage open conversations about the difficult subject of death which can help us all, including bereaved children and those who support them. The Parade will also raise money for Heart of Kent Hospice – the finale being the glittering auction of the 51 unique sculptures to secure funds to further its compassionate care.