Seeking out those who are alone on their planet or lost in a desert, creating ties in order to come to their aid or simply be of help to them – such is the goal of the various voluntary organisations in France that subscribe to the humanist philosophy of The Little Prince. In common with the hero whose example they follow, their message is universal. Find out more about them here.
Les Petits Princes: the power of a dream
It all began in 1987. Marie Bayle, a self-employed nurse, and Dominique Bayle, a physical education teacher, were looking for a way to ease the suffering of sick children. Realising how powerful a force imagination can be, the two women became convinced that making dreams come true for sick children could not only bring them a little happiness but also give them renewed strength to fight their disease.
What better symbol of the combat that makes the imagination into a weapon against illness than the Little Prince? All those who feed on dreams to give meaning to the harsh conditions of their lives are, in their own way, little princes. No need to look further for a name for the organisation: Les Petits Princes it would be !
Frédéric d’Agay, great-nephew of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, gave his support to Marie and Dominique Bayle’s project and in December 1987 the organisation came into existence.
Since then, over 3,000 dreams have been made to come true: journeys to far-off lands, extraordinary meetings and amazing exploits. One sick child took a long dreamed-of flight in a hot-air balloon, another played a clown or acted on stage (most notably Estelle in an stage adaptation based on Saint-Exupéry’s tale of The Little Prince), another took up horse-riding, another was welcomed aboard the cruise liner Queen Mary, yet another met a favourite star… the list is almost endless!
Find out more: www.petitsprinces.com
Draw-me a sheep: drawing up a plan for life
Draw-me a sheep is the first thing the Little Prince asks of the aviator he meets in the desert, and these words have become the motto of those who, lost in distress and cut off from everything, hope to rediscover their way in life. A well of fresh water awaits where they may quench their thirst, and The Little Prince finally finds his rose on the far distant planet that is his home.
It is also the approach followed by the voluntary organisation Dessine-moi un mouton which, since 1990, has provided support and counselling for children and teenagers suffering from AIDS, and for their families. The organisation helps them to regain their independence, to preserve or restore family bonds (parents and child, mother and infant), to plan for the future. Professionals offer sufferers and their families psychological, paramedical, social and educational support tailored to the needs and ages of those concerned.
One of the many innovative ideas the organisation deploys is inviting children to express the difficulties they encounter by acting them out in sketches. Once the difficulties have been brought out into the open, the child can then discuss them with a psychologist. The organisation is based in Paris but acts as an information hub for the whole of France.
Find out more: www.dessinemoiunmouton.org
Les Ailes du Petit Prince: helping children who are different to realise their dreams of flying, beyond all differences…
Making dreams come true and offering the gift of freedom to children deprived of their dreams and freedom by disability or serious illness is the aim of the men and women who give their time and energies to the voluntary organisation Les Ailes du Petit Prince, so that these little princes can in their turn discover our Earth as seen from the sky and reach the stars shining high up above, alongside a cloud shaped like a sheep…
It is an adventure that creates ties and tames « men ». New planets are brought within the reach of children and their families.
The aim of the organisation, founded in 1998, is not only to offer sick or disabled youngsters a chance to experience the thrill of flying, but also, and most importantly, to bring people together, encourage friendships to grow and foster dreams, to prove that there are no limits between people who find, like Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, that life is made up of discovery, giving, sharing, respect and humanism.
Find out more: http://lesailesdupetitprince.chez-alice.fr
Le Petit Monde: protecting children
In 1997, a group of paediatric professors joined forces to pursue a shared idea: « Hospitals need to rethink their paediatric units. They need to be redesigned to take into account the needs of the children they serve. » Just as The Little Prince was concerned to protect his rose, they wanted to « tame » their young patients and improve quality of life for the children under their care. A number of projects took shape. The « MRI Game » prepares children for a particularly stressful examination by means of a light-hearted simulation that helps children learn to stay still: a cartoon character explains when not to move, and a rocket-shaped simulator reproduces the noises made by an MRI scanner. During the scan, the cartoon is projected inside the scanner. The aim is to avoid the need for young patients to be anaesthetised or sedated. To help children cope with the psychological trauma of an unfamiliar environment and possible separation from their parents, the organisation came up with the idea of a special Children’s House, a Maison du Petit Monde, providing apartment accommodation for children’s families to stay nearby. Thanks to The Little Prince, other children can now look forward less apprehensively to a stay in hospital.
Find out more : http://wwww.lepetitmonde.com
Association Le Petit Prince: opening up other horizons for children…
Its logo, a child mounted on a winged horse leaping skywards, says much about the ambitions of the Association Le Petit Prince. The organisation was formed in 1985 and provides discovery holidays for children between the ages of 6 and 15, offering an introduction to the environment and cultural interests. In 1996, designated Year of Generosity in France, the organisation set up its Soleil au Cœur (sunshine in our hearts) programme to provide holidays for deprived children. Now the organisation is keen to develop its latest project: Citoyen de Vie (citizen for life). Holidays of a different kind are organised around the themes of shared values in our society: respect for oneself and for others, helping others, rejecting violence, listening to differences. The « theatre-forum » encourages children to act out virtual conflicts and resolve them through discussion and debate, understanding and tolerance, with each side taking a step towards the other. A concrete way of proving to children that you can « change things » by thinking and communicating. And what role does The Little Prince play in all this? An example, of course! After all, didn’t he leave his asteroid to go in search of friends? Didn’t he teach us that we must be patient in order to make friends? That we have to « tame » them? And that we become responsible, forever, for those we have tamed? Could there be a better lesson in citizenship than Saint-Exupéry’s tale? Or a better textbook from which to learn that what is essential is invisible to the eye, and can only be seen with the heart? The Association Le Petit Prince needs Saint-Exupéry’s fable and its author, in turn, needs such organisations to pass on his message, to put his ideas into action.
Find out more: www.lepetitprince.asso.fr