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More than a patient: Seriously ill children and young people reveal artwork that uncovers their innermost thoughts and fears

News and comment

We are very proud to unveil a collection of art called ‘This is Me’ – produced by seriously ill children and young people from across the country. The idea was to give vulnerable and often isolated children and young people a chance to share how they feel about their life and how their health condition affects them.

For many it has enabled them to think about how they would like to be remembered when they die. As one young person shared: “Illness has shown me I can be more than one thing, it has made me live every single day (even if that day is in bed) as if there is no tomorrow.”

The artwork for ‘This is Me’ has been designed by children and young people with life-limiting conditions – sometimes with help from family members and carers, and includes poems, vlogs, paintings, drawings and photographs, and was generously funded by the Flourish Arbonne Foundation. The project was launched in response to a call from children and young people to have an outlet for their artwork and creative writing – which acts as a coping strategy for their often isolated and remote life.

Seriously ill young people need space to explore their identity and the opportunity to improve mental wellbeing. The ‘This is Me’ project encouraged young people to demonstrate what is important to them, how they feel about their future and to focus on their ambitions, interests and thoughts in the most creative way possible.

The exhibition of art was due to be unveiled to palliative care health care professionals from across the world at our conference which was sadly postponed in March due to COVID-19.

Lizzie Chambers, Director of Programmes at Together for Short Lives said:

Many young people with life-limiting illnesses are isolated, with few opportunities to socialise and to express their thoughts and feelings – even more so at this current time. This project has been a great focus for many of these young people as we know that being creative and innovative is good for mental health. Many of them worked alongside their family members or carers to produce their creation and we have been amazed with the amount of submissions we have received. We know that it is extremely disappointing that the exhibition will not be open for others to view publicly but we hope that all those who submitted a piece will be proud to view their artwork online via our digital anthology.

Lizzie Chambers, Director of Programmes at Together for Short Lives

The project has been led from the start by a group of seriously ill young people themselves. These ‘curators’ have encouraged other young people to take part in the project and have worked with Together for Short Lives to put together the digital anthology. One of the curators, Hannah Hodgson, said:

The This is Me project is even more topical at what is an extremely anxious time for children and young people with life-limiting illnesses. The children and young people that submitted to this project live with an existential fear hovering over them. This project shows that even during fear there is laughter and beauty in the smallest moments.

Hannah Hodgson, This is Me curator

Leave a comment


  1. Thank you for your leaving your comment Lauren. Please accept our condolences for the loss of your daughter, we're really sorry to hear that devastating news. It is great to hear that This is Me was such a positive experience for your daughter, the project is very much all about the young-people involved, and we hope it will stand as a happy memory for you of your daughter in future. Very best wishes Tim, Together for Short Lives.

    16 April, 2020
    Tim Young
  2. My daughter's work is part of this. She sadly passed away the day before this was published. She was so pleased to be involved in this is me and would have been so excited to see all the other work from all the other kids. Nice to think of the happy memories and this was one of hers.

    14 April, 2020
    Lauren Bones