Learning to engage

So I have been selected by the University of Birmingham to attend a course on Leadership in engagement. The first session was today and already I have loads of ideas of how to take my research to the people that matter. The people that matter to me are children, young people and their families – they need to be armed with enough knowledge to ask the right questions and to make sure that their medicines are right for them. Today I heard about dance, theatre, music and film as ways to engage with children – all of which look useful.


I recently read work where children (aged 10) wrote about their illnesses in poems. This was interesting as it allowed children to write in their own language to express what there illness means to them. Here are two poems:

  • Once I saw different coloured lights:
  • Red, blue, green, purple, pink,
  • Everywhere around.
  • They were beautiful.
  • Something would explode.
  • And I felt dizzy
  • Now, I see the same lights as you,
  • White and amber street lights,
  • As I walk around.
  • They are beautiful.
  • Everything is calm,
  • And I feel happy


This was written by a child with epilepsy


The second poem is below:

  • I can feel the wind blow on my face.
  • Leaves crunching and crackling.
  • Sticks cracking under my feet as I step on them.
  • Trees creaking loudly as the wind blows the branches about.
  • Shiny nuts lay on the ground.
  • Some animals making houses to hibernate in and the birds twittering away.
  • Nosily the tractors revving up in the field


This was written by a child who lost his sight following a brain tumour


The reference for both poems is: Developmental Medicine & Child Neurology
Volume 54, Issue 1, pages 52-53, 1 DEC 2011 DOI: 10.1111/j.1469-8749.2011.04127.x


These poems make me think about how we engage with children and how we can ensure that our language matches theirs when talking about illness and medicines.

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