by meta on Thursday February 13th, 2014
Les Ateliers du Coeur
This is a guest blog post – contributed by Megan Chalamet. Perfect timing for such post as Valentine’s Day coming tomorrow and the International Childhood Cancer Day on February 15th. Thank you, Megan for writing this! xx
Last year I was in the waiting room of my daughter’s pediatrician’s office, and as I scanned all the announcements, notices and signs stapled and taped up to the wall, a tiny magnet caught my eye, announcing support for children and families with chronic illness or facing hospitalization.
Les Ateliers du Coeur was founded in May of 2013 to provide help to families during hospitalization or chronic illness, so that parents and children might find help with foreign territory; that siblings might find help coping; that friends and teachers might also find resources to help them understand these new challenges.
These services begin in the form of a simple gesture: listening. Then the association orients them to helpful people or places, provides help with paperwork or legal questions, creates support groups tailored to their needs, helps with child care, and hosts creative workshops for everyone.
I was immediately drawn to this Association. Sabrina Penel, founder of the Association, saw an enormous patchwork of needs and challenges after experiencing it first-hand. And as for me, coming from a music therapy background, I had worked with children and families going through these difficulties, and could see the difference these services made. This is exactly the kind of help families need in order to better cope and navigate the medical system, and at the same time support the health and development of everyone in their family.
Les Ateliers du Coeur also offers events that are open to all families. There are regular Saturday workshops with activities such as making cupcakes, jewelry, or learning about massage. Since January, they offer child care every Wednesday from 13:30 until 16:30 at the parish of St. Jacques. This brilliant idea of offering events open to everyone creates a supportive yet light atmosphere where the focus moves from illness to creativity and play. The Association even offers ‘stages de vacances’.
I’ve taken my daughter to the Wednesday group twice. I really believe that she will benefit from going there time to time, to meet new children who might have different challenges than hers, to be able to share and learn from each other. I was also able to benefit of course, and was able to get some breathing space in the middle of a very stressful week.
I haven’t had a chance to get out the Pully Port, but the last Wednesday of every month the Association hosts outdoor exercise with Jennyfer, a volunteer of the organization. Children in strollers or on bikes are welcome!
For those who are looking to volunteer, this is a dynamic and exciting organization. There are already many English-speaking volunteers, or you can become a member by paying the annual dues.
There are so many ways to support Les Ateliers du Coeur! The jeweler Carole Barby created beautiful bracelets around Christmas last year, and they are available for 18 CHF at Cuppin’s or online at Graine de Shopping.
Sabrina Penel can be contacted for questions via phone or email. I always correspond by email, in French and English, and she is very comfortable responding in English.