SXSW 2019: Imagining ways to help children who have cancer

“Your child has cancer.” How could parents ever be ready to hear these words much less be prepared to explain to their child the impact of the disease and what treatment will be like? One partnership has recognized this issue and successfully developed a way to help.

Cancer is Scary: How Animation and AR Can Help, a South by Southwest Conference and Festivals (SXSW) 2019 panel, described how a nonprofit organization and a team of creative professionals worked together to equip, educate and empower families who are facing a childhood cancer diagnosis.

The result of the collaboration was The Imaginary Friend Society (IFS) – a short film series and immersive augmented reality (AR) experience that explains cancer and its treatment in a kid-friendly way. The animated videos can also be found on the web site of the nonprofit partner: The Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.

The videos can be seen on-demand when children need support. The animated characters not only offer words of encouragement they provide needed insight into elements of the treatment. Titles of two of the over twenty offerings are “What is an MRI?” and “Finding Out You Have Cancer.”

There were a number of insights for nonprofit organizations and partnerships that were shared by panelists, Kathy Riley, Vice President of Family Support at the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation and Jason Sperling Senior Vice President and Chief of Creative Development at RPA, an independent ad agency. The lessons included:

  • Ambitious projects are built on trust;
  • Driving change can also drive awareness;
  • Look for partners who share the same passion;
  • Capitalize on momentum.

“There is power in a creative idea that is used for good,” said Sperling.

The creative team, led by RPA, worked on a fully pro bono basis. A number of hospitals also present the videos as part of their in-house offerings.  In addition to the videos, the team has also created dolls, posters, and an app that allows a child to interact with IFS characters.

Click below to take a look at one of the IFS offerings: “Feeling Sad.”

SXSW 2019 panelists, Jason Sperling Senior Vice President and Chief of Creative Development at RPA and Kathy Riley, Vice President of Family Support at the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation.

SXSW 2019 in Austin

Panel: Cancer is Scary: How Animation and AR Can Help

Date: March 11, 2019

Track: Health & MedTech presented by Kaiser Permanente

Images: S. Erler, RPA/ PBTF (video)

About Susannah Erler 7 Articles
Susannah Erler is Interim Director of the Texas Grants Resource Center and Director of Greater Good Strategies – Nonprofit Consulting.

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