Back in March 2015, before I officially started 1000 Hearts, I made some hearts for a work event that didn’t go ahead. Rather than stash them in a drawer somewhere, I offered them to people on my personal Facebook page as random acts of kindness. One of the people who contacted me was Kate, an old school friend of my sister who I remembered with much fondness. Her son Hugo was eight years old at the time and struggling at school. Kate wrote that Hugo “has such a big heart that it’s very hard to watch it breaking.”
When his pocket heart arrived in the mail, Hugo found it a comforting sensory toy and agreed to let me share a bit of his story. With his Mum’s help, he wrote the following; “My name is Hugo and I have a pocket heart that helps me every day. I have dyslexia and dysgraphia and I find school quite stressful sometimes. The pocket heart helps me when I feel worried or sad or disappointed. I put my hand into my pocket and give it a squeeze and it gives me hope. It helps me remember that people love and care for me and that I am a person that won’t give up!” Hugo is a sensory seeker and fidgeting with something tactile helped to calm him – his Mum said the pocket heart met a physical need as well as an emotional one and that he often carried it with him in crowded spaces where he was inclined to feel overwhelmed.
When Hugo’s felt heart got a bit battered, I offered to make him a new one so Kate asked him what colours he thought might be nice for a heart. He said “the colours of the one I have” and continued to be loyal to his original heart, which helped him to be brave at school camp, climbing a high ropes course and sitting his NAPLAN tests. Hugo is older now, and the family have moved overseas, but Kate has sent me many touching stories about how the pocket hearts have allowed members of their family to access “a part of their hearts that was previously quite hard to find.”
For me, it was Hugo who really made me realise the power and potential of the humble pocket heart. To see what a difference it made for him was, in large part, what motivated me to think about ways in which I could offer the hearts more widely and get more people involved in sharing the love. And from there, this project was born.
Thanks Hugo x