IAHPC Traveling Scholars' reports

2015; Volume 16, No 2, February

IAHPC Traveling Scholars' reports

First International Conference on Youth in Palliative Care: StudentsPalCon 2015

In January, IAHPC was delighted to support ten palliative care student volunteers from Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka to attend the First International Conference on Youth in Palliative Care in Kerala, southern India.

IAHPC grantees: Ms. Manahari; Sri Lanka; Mr. Subrata Adhikary, Mr. Mrinal Kanti Biswas, Ms. Nila Guha, Mr. Kishore Sarkar, Mr. Mikhilal SK, Mr. Bulan Acharya, West Bengal: Mr. Julhash Uddin, Mr. Mridul Sarker, Mr. Paritosh Chakma, Bangladesh, and Ms. Mansi Shah, Mumbai

This extraordinary and unique conference brought together student volunteers and eminent figures in palliative care from across the world to learn about and improve models of youth involvement in palliative care. The conference, held in Kerala, southern India, was jointly organised by ‘Students in Palliative Care’ (SIPC) and the World Health Organization Collaborating Center Institute of Palliative Medicine, Kozhikode. Alakananda P M, a student volunteer core team member, captures conference highlights.

Ms Alakananda P.M.

‘Youth in Palliative Care’ was the dream of those students who cared. When the sun broke the darkness on 17 January 2015 their dream had finally come true. The day began with the registration of more than 1,000 participants from all over India and abroad. The zest and zeal in their faces underlined their determination – nothing would be taken for granted. They chose an eco-friendly approach, ignoring plastic and embracing nature by providing paper bags, notepads and pencils. The event began with ‘Rangapooja’, a graceful dance performance evoking blessings from the Almighty, followed by the inauguration ceremony.

One of the conference social activities

The first scientific session aimed to showcase different models of youth involvement in palliative care and included presentations by youth-led palliative care initiatives in Kerala: SIPC, NEST and KOOTU. This was followed by four presentations from MAD, Happy Feet Home, Jagrithi Yathra and Wheelathon2015. These were non-palliative social initiatives and the session was beneficial in giving innovative ideas to the palliative care volunteers.

During the lunch break, delegates visited a variety of stalls that included two inspiring initiatives from the Institute of Palliative Medicine: ‘Footprints’ and ‘Shop Compassion’. Footprints is a vocational rehabilitation project that trains patients to make jewelry, soft toys and bamboo products while Shop Compassion is a charity shop that also sells recycled materials, with proceeds donated to palliative care.

The second scientific session resumed after lunch with the oral presentation competition, which included the following topics:

These sessions were rich and diverse and made us understand the potential of youth in various aspects of social commitments.

The third and final scientific session was a panel discussion on ‘Youth as a social entrepreneurship’ with models of social involvement. There was some heated discussion though the session was inspiring.

This conference was an eye-opener for those people who smirk at youth for being ignorant and careless. The delegates showed their support by applauding every presentation and there was a real spark of youth and vitality in the air. Between sessions, the ‘Because I care’ theme song was played to energize the audience who, encouraged by volunteers, swayed to the music with heartfelt joy and tears. Mr. Shihabuddheen, an energetic young man with no limbs, inspired the audience with his amazing dance, violin and keyboard performance. Each and every delegate was awestruck by his effortless performance. He ignited a spark – if he can, why can’t we?

The closing ceremony was a chance for appreciation and congratulation as Mr. Shihabuddheen and Ms. Baby Fatima commended the winners of competitions held prior to the conference.

If we could ask delegates one question: Who cares? I am convinced that they would answer with complete certainty: I do! After all, the conference was a part of the campaign, ‘Because I care’.

Read more about WHO Collaborating Center Institute of Palliative Medicine.
Read more about the IAHPC Traveling Scholarship program.

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