The eye-YPAG visit France! iCAN conference – Various authors

By Vijay Tailor-Hamblin,

We had the amazing opportunity to send our young people on a trip to the iCAN conference (International Children’s Advisory Network meeting) hosted in Lyon France. The network brings together and supports young person advisory groups around the world to provide a voice for children and families in medicine, research, and innovation. Below we have some first-hand accounts from our young people on the trip.


Young person 1 – 12 years old

I liked the whole experience, but I really enjoyed being able to explore and learn about Lyon as well as learn about medical things during the conference. The conference was fun, and I especially liked doing the creation task where we got to learn how to create and design our own game. The talk I liked most was one about genomes and research studies based around genomes because I found it very interesting, I also liked one about diabetes because we got to design a poster.   In fact, the presentations where we had something to do were the best ones.  The conference also organised for us to do a scavenger hunt around places in Lyon one evening. On the Thursday they also put on a party for Bastille Day.  I really enjoyed both activities because it gave us the chance to see more of Lyon, not just the university and the hospitals we were at for the conference. I think it was really a great opportunity for me to learn new things and meet new people from other parts of the world.

Young person 2 – 12 years old

We learnt many new things, met new people and found out about research and diseases. On the first day, Monday, we were shown around and found out what we were going to do. We also were shown all the companies, research projects, researchers and different groups that would be participating during the week before listening to a couple of presentations. On day two, we attended some presentations and met some of the researchers. Between every few talks and lectures, we had a break and lunch. The food was quite fancy and not extremely kid friendly, but the pastries were still lovely. Lyon is a beautiful city and we found this out by doing a scavenger hunt on the Tuesday evening. On Wednesday, day three, we listened to lectures and continued our group projects. All the children at the conference were split into 4 groups. Each group worked on a game during the week. It was a question – answer game about a child starting a new medication and if the child starting the medication was worried or scared, they could play the game. We had to design characters, questions, answers, and a background for the game. At the end of the week, each group would showcase their game. On Thursday it was Bastille Day in France, so in the evening, we had a party for everyone from the whole conference! It was really fun!

I really enjoyed some of the presentations and preferred the ones where there were activities for us to do, like saying what we could make better about the product they were testing. The party was really great because everyone was happy, and it was brilliant.

Young person 3 – 13 years old

The iCAN conference was a wonderful experience; It may have truly been one of the best things I have ever done. The lectures were informative and interesting (some examples of the topics being ethics, research, and genetics in rare diseases) and listening to professionals was really special as we got to see their point of view. We had the opportunity to talk to researchers and ask questions while also hearing the questions of others answered. Throughout the week we worked in smaller groups to design a video game for young people who are anxious about getting an MRI scan. This was great as we got to know others better while having immense fun. On Bastille Day (second to last day) there was a huge party with a DJ, photo machine, food and disco lights. It was rather like a reward for all our hard work. At 10:00 we watched the fireworks then continued to party till 12. As this was our last night there, I made sure to exchange numbers with many of the friends I had made.
What kept me engaged during the many lectures was typing up everything they were saying as it helped me process the information much better. For one of the lectures, we were asked to create a poster which was fun even after a long day. Overall, I am so grateful that I was given this opportunity to go! I got to meet so many amazing people from all around the world and I can only hope that YPAG can go along next year! I would also like to thank our facilitator who had to put up with all our shenanigans!