Puppet portal

Puppet Portal Project - Helium Children’s Arts and Health (2010)

'A very enjoyable experience. Great distraction from the serious business of the hospital.' (Parents)
'That's just what's needed in a children’s hospital.' (Staff)
'Very good and brilliant.' (Children)


The Puppet Portal Project aimed to merge the areas of art, technology and health, in order to facilitate children in hospital to create interactive puppetry performances.

Puppet Portal

Children making puppet versions of staff members

Four professional artists worked with over 450 staff, children, and family members, in four acute hospitals (Dublin, Limerick and Sligo), over a five month period. Each artist worked with children, staff and parents to create interactive puppetry performances, which were then shared and developed further with children in the other three hospitals. The artists, children and staff, shared ideas and performances through an on-line community for children in hospital called Áit Eile.

Puppet Portal

Using Ait Eile

Over 40 colourful, imaginative and accomplished performances were created and performed by children as part of the Puppet Portal Project. An evaluation found that the project encouraged creativity, social contact, physical movement, self-expression, and confidence. It introduced children to the use of multimedia technology, distracted them from their illness, reduced stress and gave them a greater sense of control over their environment.

Puppet portal

Puppets on the wards

The project also facilitated reflection and dialogue among artists and health professionals about best practice when working creatively with children; it supported the professional development of artists through Practice.ie, a professional network for artists who work with children and young people developed by Kids Own; and enhanced the creative skills and understanding of hospital staff and parents.

Further information

For further information about the Puppet Portal project and the work of Helium please contact:
Helene Hugel, Artistic Director, Helium
Tel: + 353 (0) 44 93 96 960
Email: helene@helium.ie
Web: http://www.helium.ie/portal.html


Theatre - Puppetry

Arts practice

Arts Participation - Arts and Health


  • Siobhán Clancy, Visual Artist
  • Emma Fisher, Puppeteer
  • Helene Hugel, Puppeteer
  • Anna Rosenfelder, Puppeteer


Children, parents and staff in:

  • Beaumont Hospital, Dublin,
  • Children's University Hospital, Temple St., Dublin,
  • Mid-Western Regional Hospital, Limerick,
  • Sligo General Hospital


  • Centre for Health Informatics TCD
  • Kids' Own Publishing Partnership


In addition to the Arts Council Project Award, this project was funded by:

  • Health Service Executive
  • Social Entrepreneurs Ireland

Find funding tool