Valentines Day with a twist..

As most of you will know this week has been all about Valentines. A source of great joy for all girlfriends, and misery for all bank balances and singletons. But this was far from reflected in the KONTACT Hospital trip Valentines Special. As we walked out of the QMC covered in glitter, resembling the cast of a budget reinvention of the Twilight series, it was clear that for a brief moment we had escaped the purgatory that is being single at Valentines. On Wednesday, rather than enduring our housemates unnecessary  public displays of affection or joining the Social Media assault on the Celebrations, we, a team of 12, spent the day at the Hospital School: “teaching”.

A Valentine’s Day card affectionately given to Hannah Schejbal by the adorable young girl she was working with on the children’s ward.

The purpose of the trip was to help further the “education” of the pupils at the hospital school, although, as is often the case, that’s not quite how it went. When people hear hospital school, there is an immediate, almost involuntary, negative reaction; “it sounds upsetting” or “depressive”. But this could not be further from the truth. When you arrive at the school, you don’t know what quite to expect, and admittedly it is shocking. It is sad to see people having a rough time; it’s part of the human condition. However, what is far more remarkable is the extraordinary capacity for positivity. Far from the often imagined, semi-waking, walking, just about talking snooze that people commonly assume to be “life” inside a hospital, the school is a carnival of ambitious activities, and amazing people. The staff are inspiring, the children invigorated and us… well, in awe.

You would think the challenge in teaching an 8 year old about love would be simplifying so that they understand. But, the truth is, more often than not, you teaching them turns into them teaching you, and although you may not have set out to learn about “Tangled”, or why you should hate Justin Bieber but love Lady Gaga, that’s how it goes and it’s amazing to hear some of the children’s perspectives on issues that at 20-something years old most of us still have no clue about.

These visits are so important as it shows how something so simple can brighten a child’s day. Every year one in 10-15 children are admitted to hospital, which can be a very daunting experience, especially for someone so young. By visiting hospitals Karnival allows children to feel much more relaxed and have recreational time so that they can be temporarily eased of their worries. And let’s be honest, who doesn’t love a good colouring-in session.

Cripps, Nightingale, Willougby and SPC reps volunteering alongside Becky Welton, Kontact Director, Samson Wendes and Bec Cannon on the Kontact committee, and Hannah Schejbal, Publicity and Campaigns Exec.

These hospital visits at the QMC are just the start for Karnival. In 2014 we hope to go even further with volunteering including redecorating areas of hospitals, helping children at local schools and also going to places such as soup kitchens. Karnival is not only about raising money for charity (although that is still an extremely important element to us) but it is also largely about working with others in communities. Even if we brighten just one child’s day in a hospital by reading to them or a homeless person’s day with free soup, that is what Karnival is about, improving the quality of people’s live, without sounding as cheesy as that does (well maybe slightly cheesy).

By Samson Wendes, Kontact Committee, and Paige Roden, 2014 SPC Karnival Rep

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