Olivia Newton-John Cancer & Wellness Centre – Arts in Healthcare program
The Arts in Healthcare program normalizes the healthcare environment, by connecting the life of patients and carers outside the hospital to their experiences at the centre. The program focuses on enabling the process of meaning through creative interventions to help patients make sense of their experiences in difficult times. Creativity is at the heart of the program as it is fundamental to human experience, identity and personal narratives.
The Yarning Around knitting program allows patients and carers to cope with their diagnosis by focusing on the tactile sensation of wool and the repetitive motion. This calming process brings patients and carers’ attention to the here and now which can reduce their anxieties. It is important for cancer patients and carers to feel connected to others whose lives have been affected by cancer. Our knitters contribute to other patients by either attending the Yarning Around group meetings or by donating their contributions to designated collection boxes. Patients and carers knit hats, scarfs and squares which are then joined together into blankets and handed out to families as a gift on palliative care. We also receive donated goods from other community organizations and are open to building new partnerships and collaborative projects.
Extending purpose beyond borders - knitting for children in refugee camps
For the past two months patients, carers and staff members at ONJCWC have been knitting for Syrian refugee children in Baar Elias, in Lebanon. As winter approaches, children living in tents experience harsh weather conditions where food and water are limited. Participants reflected positively on the meaningful and purposeful effects of knitting for this cause especially during the current global crisis of migration and political unrest. Reaching out to vulnerable children, the knitters were able to gift their beautiful creations; metaphorically connecting to those in need.
Extending beyond the therapeutic relationship; The Red Pencil, a charity based in Singapore that advocates for the use of arts interventions to globally enhance mental and emotional wellbeing of the underprivileged; sponsored the delivery of the knitted items to refugees. Over 400 items were handed to 150 children and their families in 65 tents, spreading a surge of colour and smiles across the community. It was the first time that donated goods received are actually handmade, which left a big impression on many in the camps. The women expressed their gratitude, admired the items inquisitively and asked about the process of making them.
This project would not have been successful without the generous donations of the Epping Returned and Services League (RSL) Poppy Ladies group supported by the Australian National Veterans Arts Museum (ANVAM); a charity organisation that supports the health and wellbeing of members of the military veteran community, and their families, through Arts based engagements.