Chalking your dreams on our wall

Posted by Matt Carter, on May 10 2017 in: News

Dorothy House brings a ‘Before I Die’ wall to Bath College


On Tuesday 9 May, we hosted a ‘Before I Die’ Wall event at Bath College as part of Dying Matters Week (8-14 May). Students, staff and visitors to the College were invited to add their life goals, dreams and ambitions to the cube, a four-sided chalk board wall situated outside the entrance to the College.

The event was enthusiastically embraced by students and staff with the cube surrounded by crowds of people reading, writing, photographing and discussing what others had written while adding their own thoughts. College students also continued the debate on social media.

Life goals written on the chalk board ranged from the humorous to the touching and profound, with some of the goals listed below shedding a unique light on the student’s hopes and dreams for their future. In answer to the statement ‘Before I Die…’ students wrote:

  • To live the life I choose
  • To write a book
  • I want to live…
  • Be Happy
  • Move abroad
  • Open More Doors
  • Finish doing up our house
  • Compete in a triathlon
  • Spend time outside with my mum when she is feeling well
  • Sail The Whitsundays
  • Go to Bora Bora
  • Become a mermaid
  • Have a family
  • Travel the world

Before I Die walls were inspired by Candy Chang, the New Orleans artist who created the “Before I Die…” wall concept. Her website shares the story of how, “After losing someone she loved, Chang channelled her grief and depression into this project on an abandoned house in her New Orleans neighbourhood to restore perspective and find consolation with her neighbours. She covered the crumbling house with chalkboard paint and stencilled it with the prompt, ‘Before I die I want to …’”

This event was part of Dying Matters Week 8-14 May and the theme for 2017 is ‘What Can You Do?’ Stephen Dale, Head of Community Partnerships at Dorothy House Hospice Care said of the event, “Our ‘Before I Die’ wall event aims to encourage everyone to focus on living life to the full and exploring their dreams and hopes for the future. It also helps start a conversation around death and dying with young people and helps to normalise the subject as a part of every day life. This event provides an opportunity for the College community to come together to focus on their ‘bucket list’ life goals and how they want to make their mark on the world.”

Amy Williams, Olympic Skeleton Champion and TV sports presenter who left her own mark on the wall said, “I always like to encourage young people to follow their dreams and set life goals, that’s why I’m glad to support Dorothy House’s ‘Before I Die…’Wall event and meet the students and staff at Bath College. The subject of death and dying is too often ignored by society so any effort to bring it into normal conversation has to be a good thing.”

Hayley Hayward-Boyle, Student Engagement Officer at Bath College said, “As well as supporting Dying Matters Week this event will also be held as part of a Mental Health Awareness month at the College. ‘The ‘Before I Die’ Wall created a real buzz on campus and students and staff all got involved. It’s great to see students adding their thoughts to the chalk board on their future goals and it is a really innovative way to link with our local Hospice, Dorothy House.”

James Moore, Acting Head of Creative Learning at Theatre Royal, Bath said, “This event is an incredible opportunity for young people to express themselves because not everybody finds it easy, particularly when dealing with subjects like life and death.”

Laurel Penrose, Principal of Bath College said of the event, “We are delighted to invite the local hospice, Dorothy House, to come and meet our students to help them understand why it’s important to talk about death and dying and how this helps to remove the taboo and barriers around this difficult subject. We wish them all the best for a successful event.”