Attending a YPAG meeting by Ryan, Nottm YPAG member & Dr Luca Marciani

By Nottingham YPAG,

Twitter pictureHi my name is Ryan and I’m 12, & I’ve just started going to the Young Persons Advisory Group (YPAG) sessions after I was told about it by a friend of mine from school who has been going for a while & thought I’d enjoy going too, which I do very much. The November session was my second one!

This session we met at the front desk and signed in as usual, to start the day of fun! When we got to the YPAG room first we took part in a meet and greet activity, so we could get to know each other better, directed by an older member of the YPAG group Jeevan. During the activity we had to learn six people’s names and three facts about them all (some of these facts were pretty weird!). After that we met a ‘promoter’ of Nottingham University Hospital (NUH) who was there to ask us about any ways we could think of to help promote what YPAG & the NUH does. The promoter from NUH also wanted to know if we had any ideas on how to help children connect with hospitals and not be scared of the doctors or going to a hospital.

Soon after that (after we had been sucked dry of ideas! Lol) we met another researcher from a company called TITCH who asked us for any ideas on how to make medical equipment (asthma inhalers etc.) more child friendly – the ideas they had & we were shown were pretty cool!

Next we all went for lunch which was a fab buffet feast – delicious! After we’d finished lunch we are greeted by 3 researchers who told us about their new project about the problem of constipation. To demonstrate the problem we were split into 2 groups and each group had to make a model of the gut out of guttering. IMG_1890

To see if the gut we made would work we put a marble down the gut and timed the time it took to ‘go through’ and fall out the “bottom”. To demonstrate constipation we put whipped cream into the guttering then timed the amount of time it took the marble to go through after the cream took effect ( at one point my groups marble actually got stuck in the cream!). This activity had to be the best part of the day for me because it was hands on & fun.


Now over to Dr Luca Marciani, one of the researchers who delivered this session:

I am quite used to speak in public and to present our research work to different audiences but this time, when I was preparing my presentation and activities for the YPAG meeting, I actually felt quite nervous. This was because I sometimes go to primary and secondary schools to talk to the children there about research, for example during Science Week, and I know they have absolutely brilliant minds and can come up with the most amazing questions I had not thought about, leaving me speechless. Not very good if you are the main invited speaker, no! The reason I attended this YPAG meeting (and some of my colleagues came with me too!) is because the YPAG is an integral part of the research team that will work with me on this new project. It is all about building a new diagnostic device for paediatric constipation, i.e. a new device to help diagnosing children whose guts pass food through very very slowly. In this session we talked about what constipation in children is, and how big a problem this is in the general population. I think my presentation went well, no speechless moments. We then had fun building together massive marble runs shaped like the gut: they were made of drain pipes and we timed the passage of marbles through them with and without a ‘blockage’ of whipped cream in the system! We then talked about what needs to be done for the project and we started throwing in ideas on how the design of the new device may look like. This was not a one-off ‘consulting’ visit, not at all. On this very special project the YPAG is the research team together with a design company, parents, clinicians and researchers, throughout the lifetime of the project. In a series of subsequent meetings we will perfect the device together, design the packaging, prepare information materials for children and parents and also discuss and present together at conferences the final result of the research project. With the YPAG on board I think we have here a larger and richer project team, with a lot more curious brains and a lot more pairs of hands to help us along the journey! Attending this first meeting was very useful for me and for the research project. We already had lots of ideas of what the device should look like and feel like and how best it could be used by the young patients. Think about it: we are building a device for children. We’d be very silly not to build it together with the children. I cannot wait for the next meeting. See you very soon YPAG! IMG_1894

We go back to Ryan to explain what other activities took place at this YPAG meeting:

After giving our opinions about the constipation project, another NUH doctor came in and we played an ‘Innovation Challenge’ game in groups with him. The game involved us combining two already invented gadgets & pieces of furniture to make another new invention.

After we had finished this “challenge” we had a short 15 minute break to chow down on some biscuits and juice then it was time to write our individual Portfolios, document our Records of Achievements, & do some housekeeping. After we’d finished our “paperwork” it was time to go back to reception and sign out and leave for home.

Written by Ryan aged 12 and Dr Luca Marciani

Group 1 Making gut marble run 4+++