23 March 2011
Pupils from schools in East Kent, who were invited to draw pictures in response to the question 'What makes and keeps us healthy?', have produced a lively exhibition of images bursting with their imagination.
The project was a collaboration between East Kent Hospitals Trust, Canterbury Christ Church University and primary schools in Canterbury, Herne Bay and Whitstable.
Student teachers and academic staff from Canterbury Christ Church University asked 48 local five to ten year old children to produce a piece of art about what being healthy meant and what keeps us healthy. Their drawings are now displayed in corridors at the Kent and Canterbury Hospital.
The children’s art work contains many images of fruit and vegetables which show the influences of Jamie Oliver’s ‘Feed me Better’ and the Government’s ‘5 a day’ campaigns. They have also produced pictures of running, skipping, playing football, riding and jumping on trampolines, demonstrating that the children have understood the importance of exercise for health, as well as the fact that eating healthily and being active are vital to addressing concerns about overweight and obesity.
The children’s pictures also demonstrate an awareness of the importance of the outside environment to their health, as some have drawn trees and the sun. “If you’re happy, you’re healthy,” wrote one pupil, which shows their understanding that our emotions are an important aspect of our health.
There are no pictures about spiritual aspects such as God or Buddha. The pictures also omit social aspects of health, related to the importance of being with other people for our health.
Dr Sally Robinson, professional lead for Health Promotion and Public Health, explained: “The project is dedicated to the memory of Noreen Wetton who made an inspired and immense contribution to how Personal, Social and Health Education (PSHE) is taught in primary schools. Claire March, senior lecturer in the Department of Primary Education, and myself, wanted to highlight the importance of art in hospitals, and to encourage student teachers to explore health and wellbeing with children through creativity.”
Sarah Maycock, Acting Hospital Manager, fully supported the display. She said: “These pictures are completely different from traditional artwork that usually graces hospital corridors. It is clear that the children had tremendous fun during this project and their energy and enthusiasm is reflected in their drawings”.
This project is a reproduction on a smaller scale of Noreen’s first national investigation of children’s perceptions about health in Britain.
In the 1980’s Noreen and colleagues developed the ‘draw and write’ technique. The researchers went into primary schools and asked no fewer than 22,000 children to draw in response to the question, “What do you do that makes you healthy and keeps you healthy?” The children thought about the question and each child produced one or several drawings. They were asked to write a label next to their drawings, or ask for help to do so. The pictures and labels showed that children’s understanding of health was not only holistic, but far more holistic than many adults and certainly many health professionals.
Notes to Editor
Written consent was obtained from the parents/guardians of all the children whose work is displayed.
Noreen Wetton described herself as ‘a working mother and a grandmother who was addicted to finding out how children of all ages and abilities viewed their world’ (McWhirter, 2006). She devoted sixty years of her life to understanding children’s perceptions, and she used this to inform her extensive portfolio of research, teaching and publications.
Canterbury Christ Church University
Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.
With nearly 18,000 students, and five campuses across Kent, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional expertise.
- As a leading provider of teaching and health care courses we have produced nearly 3,500 health and social care professionals and 7,000 teachers in the last five years.
- Over 90 per cent of our graduates gain employment or are in further study in the first six months after graduating.
- Along with over a thousand undergraduate, postgraduate and professional training courses on offer, we are also home to world-leading and internationally recognised research in Education, History, Music and Sports Related Studies.
- Canterbury Christ Church University was founded in 1962 by the Church of England as a teacher training college.