Under the theme, ‘Putting the Future in Their Hands’, the Ana-vation School Championship was launched in February, the UAE’s Month of Innovation, over the course of four months, the programme is currently in its training and evaluation phase, that encourages 150 students from 15 schools realise their chosen projects under the three phases of ideation, design and coding to devise tools that detect paediatric cancer symptoms by using coding and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics) principles.
All participating teams will present their prototypes at the School Championship Award ceremony in May, where the winners will be announced.
During the fourth participation at SCRF, FOCP educate the young visitors and their parents on the symptoms, risks and treatment options for paediatric cancers through purpose-made leaflets and infographics, a selection of children’s books, and a handmade talking robot.
At the launch of the festival, FOCP hosted a workshop for the students of Al Itqan American School, an Ana-vation participant, to gauge their progress in creating their prototypes.
Regional upstream oil and gas company Crescent Petroleum is Ana-vation’s main sponsor at the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival. Commenting on the sponsorship, Rene Hansen, Crescent Petroleum’s Corporate Engagement Director, said: “We are proud to partner with Friends of Cancer Patients again to promote action against cancer. We remain committed to helping our people achieve a future free of this disease as we seek to empower the Middle East by developing all of its energy resources, and above all its human capital.”
Highlighting the need for greater awareness and involvement of the youth regarding paediatric cancers, Dr. Sawsan Al Madhi, Director General of FOCP, said: “Innovation, creativity, fun and learning are at the heart of the Ana-vation School Championship. It is an endeavour to educate the youth and stimulate their participation in the global fight against cancer, by integrating their efforts in a way that encourages them to think creatively, develop their awareness and empathy, and find use for everyday objects that they might otherwise consider waste, as according to the World Health Organisation, the children less than 15 years old, childhood cancer is listed as the 4th most common cause of death”
“Through these training and workshop sessions, FOCP seeks to spark a passion for innovation and creativity in the UAE’s youth. We are extremely pleased to see the way these children have developed their projects this far and are hoping to see some great inventions by the youth for the youth who are bravely fighting their way through cancer. I wish all competing teams the very best and am glad to announce that students from many schools are already coming forward to register for next year,” she added.
At the workshop, team members Natanael Dylan and Qusai Al Kiswany presented their prototype, a teddy bear called ‘My Best Friend – MBF’. In addition to acting as a companion for young cancer patients, MBF will check their pulse rate and temperature, and will alarm them in the event their exposure to UV radiations exceeds the accepted levels.
Commenting on their determination to raising paediatric cancer awareness, team members Al Hussain Al Shimari and Aladeen Wael, said: “We have participated because we want actively support the country’s efforts to help young cancer patients. The robot we are creating will hopefully be able to move, dance, and even sing with their users. We are connecting its control to an iPad, through which the user will be able to request any kind of movement. The aim of what we are calling the ‘Physical Ability’ robot is to entertain young cancer patients and show them the importance of regular physical movement, because as per our research, physical activity indicates a 25 per cent reduction in the risk of having cancer.”
Ana-vation is a combination of the words ‘Ana’, an Arabic word that means ‘I’ in English, and ‘Innovation’. The initiative, which falls under FOCP’s umbrella ‘Kashf’ for early detection of cancer, seeks to raise awareness about the seven common warning signs of childhood cancer.
Lize De Jonge, Programme Manager at FOCP, said: “Ana-vation aims to inspire young students, doctors, researchers and scientists to dedicate themselves to identifying, treating and controlling the disease”.
Friends of Cancer Patients is a non-profit organisation founded in 1999 under the directives and patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of the Ruler of Sharjah, Founder and Patron of the Friends of Cancer Patients, International Ambassador of the World Cancer Declaration for Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), International Ambassador for Childhood Cancer for UICC and Patron of the First Global NCD Alliance Forum.