This Animation Shows What it's Like to have a Child with a Life-Shortening Condition

"Being a parent is an amazing gift, but caring for my child knowing she's likely to die before me can be very hard."

These are the opening words of a simple yet striking project produced by animation studio The Like Minded to help raise funds for children's charity Together for Short Lives.

The charity supports families caring for children facing a life-shortening condition, which it says affect 49,000 children in the UK alone – the equivalent of one in every school.

At just more than two minutes in duration the animation Through My Eyes is a powerful call to action used at the charity's Midsummer Ball on June 1 which raised £290,000.

It explains the perspective of a mother caring for her daughter - the challenge of mundane daily tasks overshadowed by the complexity of a life-shortening condition.

Together for Short Lives approached The Like Minded to complete the project, and they worked closely together to recall an authentic portrayal of a family situation.

"We felt a strong sense of responsibility to treat the nature of the communication with sensitivity while also using a clear, open and honest tone," says joint chief executive and creative director of The Like Minded at Marlow Nick Peperell.

 "The film shows how character animation, often thought of as playful, can be thoughtful and hard-hitting, evoking a strong emotional response."

The team listened to first-hand experiences of parents to shape a script, and matched this with family characters and their environment.

The characters were translated from pencil sketches to the Adobe creative suite.

"The characters were sensitively drawn and illustrated with appeal for both a younger and older adult audience. They purposefully have a more human quality than a naïve cartoon aesthetic to achieve this," says Mr Peperell.

Constant attention, needing tubes to feed, feeling exhausted and nearing emotional breakdown were some of the issues mentioned in the script.

"You’re always one step away from a crisis and there’s finding time for the rest of my life, the dishes the shopping, my other child," it explains.

"We get lots of support from a hospice nurse, family support worker, a local hospital and a volunteer who helps around the house and spends time playing with my son."

Together for Short Lives works to influence UK policy on behalf of families. They also collaboratively work with international organisations and campaign partners.

The Like Minded produces animation and infographics for brands and services such as BBC Worldwide, Oakley and the Financial Ombudsman.

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