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This project supported the development of an activity to inform pupils, parents and teachers in Thames Valley Primary and Secondary Schools about and whooping cough, helping them to gain a greater understanding of the disease.

Researcher in a classroom filled with children

Workshop session at Wolvercote Primary School with Marta Valente Pinto. Image courtesy of Marta Valente Pinto.

What was the project?

Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory disease. Although it is to some extent preventable by vaccines, it continues to cause a significant number of infections in the UK and other developed countries. This project, developed by researchers in the Department of Paediatrics, delivered activities which raised awareness of whooping cough and the transmission of respiratory diseases to primary and secondary school pupils in the Thames Valley.

These activities consisted of two interactive workshops, designed to be age appropriated. The first session focused on understanding the disease and the second in the importance of clinical trials, the impact of medical research in society and how the public can participate in trials based on an informed decision. Different activities and materials were used in the sessions to stimulate participation and engagement of the participants, like games, activity cards, videos and interactive cartoons.

How did the seed fund support the project?

The Public Engagement with Research Seed Fund funded the equipment necessary to deliver these activities, as well as supporting researchers travelling out to the schools. The activities were adapted to the age groups of the schools, and linked as far as possible with the ongoing school curriculum.

What were the benefits of the project?

The activities helped children, parents and teachers to understand more about whooping cough, and potentially make informed decisions about vaccination in the future. They also communicated how local researchers are working to improve global health, informing students about scientific research as a career choice. In addition, the activities raised awareness of the importance of clinical trials, a fundamental step in recruiting participants for studies. In addition, the project funded scientific books for the school libraries involved, awarded after the students presented a poster focused on the knowledge acquired during the workshops.