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Wendy Gallagher

Hi, I’m Wendy Gallagher.

We have been working in partnership with Manchester Schools Hospital Service for the past two years. Just recently we took a group of children, their teachers, nurses and support workers from Galaxy House, the child and adolescent residential psychiatric unit at Manchester Children’s Hospital to visit the museum. The artists who work with the children on projects came along too.

Our visit focused on the vivarium, with its live reptiles and amphibians. Andrew Gray, Curator of Herpetology delivered a fascinating session, introducing us all to these wonderful creatures and telling us about their habitats and how they adapt to their environments. We were captivated, and what an amazing opportunity he offered us. We were able to handle lizards, snakes and frogs and ask lots of questions.

Having worked with these children for sometime now, and aware of many of the difficulties they experience and challenges they face – it was wonderful to see them totally engaged with this session. Their confidence in handling the animals was quite amazing, they were full of questions and listened intently to Andrew as he explained things to us. Away from the hospital environment and medical interventions they were able, if only for a short while, put their illness to one side. The medical staff commented on how this experience allowed them to see the children in a totally different light; seeing them beyond their illness. The teaching staff said how inspiring the session had been and how they would develop this work within their teaching and learning practice.

The artists used the session to deliver creative workshops with the children. The artwork produced will be displayed in Galaxy House to enhance their somewhat sterile living environment. I look forward to posting some photographs of their work when it is finished.

For me…. Well, I feel very lucky to have access to such fascinating, rich resources enabling us to deliver an innovative and outstanding arts for health programme. And I still can’t believe that I touched a snake, in fact I couldn’t wait to handle it and actually enjoyed it too……