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Hospital takes origami online

Last updated: 09/04/2020

Alex Fackrell, who has benefited from origami tutorials from Bristol children\'s hospital\'s play teamAlex Ray, activity centre coordinator at Bristol Royal Hospital for Children, is on a mission to get hospital patients and the rest of the nation folding and creasing, with his simple tutorials to origami.

With the nation on lockdown, and the government message to stay at home, staff at Bristol children’s hospital wanted to share a fun activity for all to do over the Easter weekend that requires only a piece of paper. With a simple step by step guide, hospital activity centre coordinator, Alex Ray, takes people through the process of creating a bunny, and a samurai hat!

Alex explains: “Origami is something I’ve done since I was 10 years old. I create origami every day in the hospital, working with whole families to create simple yet impressive models.

“It’s incredibly therapeutic and improves your mental health and wellbeing. The challenges it presents can help with your concentration skills and perseverance and are known to greatly improve your understanding of shape, symmetry and reflection.

“Some models can even help some children in the hospital with their recovery, such as their breathing when making a balloon or water balloon, and their hand movements when they create a crocodile mouth.

“There have been many patients, parents and volunteers who have continued origami after they’ve left the hospital and have sent me photos of their models. Some have even visited me at the hospital’s activity centre in their own time to show me their creations.

“It a really rewarding and easily accessible hobby, as all you need is a piece of paper and some patience. That’s why I’ve begun creating these tutorials, so that no matter where people are, they can give origami a go!”

One person who’s already benefitted from Alex’s tutorials is nine year old Alex Fackrell from Stoke Gifford in Bristol. After spending time in hospital and learning origami from Alex at the activity centre, he’s gone on the set up his own origami club at school, teaching over 30 of his fellow pupils and even setting them origami homework.

Dad Martin explains how Alex’s origami has changed his son’s life: “My Alex ended up spending around six weeks in hospital, recovering from a brain infection that made him seriously unwell.

“He’s a member of the Cubs and I’m a Scout leader, so we’re used to being an active family and spending all of this time in one place was starting to take its toll.

“When he was well enough he went into the activity centre, and it’s fair to say it changed his life.

“He met Alex in the centre and they bonded over playing the guitar. Alex then decided to show my Alex how to do some simple origami models, and from then on he’s been hooked. Wherever we go, he’s always got a piece of paper with him so he can practice his folding. There are paper cranes all over the house.

“In January this year he was back at the hospital for a check-up and one of the consultants noticed him doing origami while we were waiting. They asked whether he was part of a club, which at the time he wasn’t. This spurred him on to set up his own origami club at school, where he’s now been able to share this skill with over 30 other children. Alex truly is an inspiration!”

“I have been so amazed by the level of care all of the staff at the hospital provide, that I wanted to give something back. I decided to sign up for The Grand Appeal’s skydive, and we’ve been fundraising for the hospital since.

“On New Year’s Eve, we had a party at our local community centre, where Alex set up a stall to sell his origami. Along with our other fundraising activities which the whole family have been taking part in, we’ve now raised over £1,700 to say thank you to Bristol children’s hospital.”

Julie Fisher, play centre manager added: “The hospital play team have continued to provide distraction and preparation play to patients at the children’s hospital throughout these unprecedented times.

“Play is really important for patients and their families, seen as welcome release from the clinical environment, and we’re working hard to make lots of creative packs to hand out to our patients to relieve the boredom of social distancing while in hospital.

“Alex’s origami work is incredibly popular in the hospital – he’s even created origami bouquets for members of staff – so we’re very supportive of him wanting to keep sharing this skill with people, wherever they are keeping safe!”

You can watch Alex’s origami tutorials on Bristol Royal Hospital for Children’s Facebook page. To see more of Alex’s work, please visit his Instagram page, toscaorigami