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Praise for UCNL students who dared to enter the Dragon’s Lair

Posted: 7 May 2024

Three University Campus North Lincolnshire (UCNL) students have secured £300 of funding for their innovative health promotion projects after wowing the judges at a recent Chamber Challenge event.

 The event, which took place last month, saw eight student presenters stand in front of a panel of judges in the University Centre’s Chambers to showcase their impressive health-themed projects, in the hope of securing funding to aid launch.

 The first-place winner, Aliah Ali, created a children’s book titled ‘Please Don’t Stare’ which aims to normalise disability by raising awareness amongst younger children.

Aliah proudly works with and was inspired by a young man named Jaik, who at a young age suffered a brain bleed which led to a life-altering disability. She commented: “As somebody who works with a child with a disability, I’ve seen first-hand how children – and even adults – react to a physical disability, which is often just by staring. This project aims to normalise disability by exposing children to it from a young age, removing that initial shock they have when first encountering somebody with a disability.

“I was really nervous and wasn’t going to do the presentation at first, but I’m glad I did it and that I can now dedicate my book – which will be circulated in nurseries and children’s wards locally – to Jaik. He even got to choose the photograph we used of him in the dedication through eye movement communication.”

The judges named two joint runners up, unable to score one higher than the other, who both received £300 of funding and a runner up trophy.

Student Zoe Robinson, who works for Macmillan Cancer Support, created a touching ‘Forget Me Not’ booklet to encourage communication between families when a loved one is terminally ill and in end-of-life care, while Kayleigh Toulson produced a wellbeing-focussed children’s affirmation and sensory book, with a QR code to a digital version with the addition of Makaton for those with disabilities or learning disabilities.

A panel of judges – or ‘Dragons’ – included experts in medicine, public health, education, and business, and they awarded a special unplanned award on the night in recognition of one student’s creativity.

Emily Blanchard produced a unique greetings card for new mothers that from the outside looked like a regular congratulations card, but inside contained a host of non-invasive information about post-natal depression, a list of resources available to help new mums, and words of encouragement to help them feel at ease. Emily was awarded £100 to launch these cards in maternity wards where they will be given to new parents upon discharge after giving birth.

Gillian Reid, Head of School for Health and Wellbeing at University Campus North Lincolnshire and event judge commented: “Students should not be silent scholars and should be able to showcase the excellent work they produce. Events like the Chamber Challenge allow them to do just that.”

Sara Brown, Programme Lead for FdSc/BSc Mental Health and Wellbeing and FdSc Health and Social Care Lecturer, recognises that professional confidence is developed through creative expression and continually encourages this within her lectures. “All of the competitors shone during the challenge, demonstrating such courage and creativity. They only had 10 weeks to complete this project, so each one is a feat in itself – I’m really proud of them all,” she said.