Children’s Media Conference 2019

Thursday 04 July 2019

Our Programme Manager, Nathaniel Mills, was invited to chair a session on ‘Children’s Media Medicine’ at the recent 2019 Children’s Media Conference held in Sheffield.

The CMC is the only gathering in the UK for everyone involved in developing, producing and distributing content to kids – on all platforms. Attendees from film, TV, radio, interactive media, games, licensing, toys, book and magazine publishing, the arts and culture sector and educational media came to Sheffield for the 3 day conference.

The session focused on 4 case studies that illustrated the various ways in which it’s possible to make a difficult and sometimes disturbing topic not only palatable, but fun and engaging for the younger audience:

Dr Dylan Yamada-Rice at Dubit told us of her innovative play kit project that uses VR to prepare children for an Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). The play kit is begin developed by a team of researchers and developers at Dubit, the Royal College of Art, the Glasgow School of Art, Sheffield Children’s Hospital NHS Trust and the University of Sheffield. MRI is a non-invasive scanning method that employs strong magnetic fields and radio waves to examine parts of the body.

Alisha Aggarwal is co-president of the student led Teddy Bear Hospital Society. She presented examples of the initiatives, media and events they run in and around Sheffield in schools, at the University Hospital, in Beaver and Rainbow Clubs and at their main event, free and open to the public, which attracts over 300 children each year. Children bring along their Teddy Bears for treatment – whether it’s for an MRI scan (in a toy scanner), to have bandages applied, ophthalmologists and dentists also attend and care for the children’s teddy bears – all of which helps to reassure children about visits to the doctor, dentist and opticians.

Kez Margrie spoke about the TV series ‘Operation Ouch’ which is now in its 8th series. The programme was commissioned following on from the success of ‘Embarrassing Bodies’ – the BBC identified the need for a kids’ version. Working closely the twins – Dr Chris and Dr Xand van Tulleken – and Sheffield Children’s Hospitals Dr Clare O’Connell, the TV series covers all medical topics and areas of the hospital in an educational and entertaining way. All of the hospital stories help to allay anxiety and fear and help children understand how their bodies work.

Dominic Minns talked about how he creates interactive medical content for shows such as ‘Operation Ouch!’ and ‘Get Well Soon’ (another medical show for pre-schoolers). Arcade style games make learning fun and difficult topics easy to cover.