Iloa elämään event is the biggest event for children and youngsters aged 2-16 suffering from rheumatism or musculoskeletal disorder (MSD). It is a joyful day full of happiness and laughter, adventures and excitement. For families with children suffering from rheumatism or MSD everyday life is often challenging and painful, so this event strived to balance daily routines by offering a well-earned break. In addition, participants were able to find peer support and learn more about the disease from medical experts.
Students through carefully analysing the objectives of the commissioner were able to prepare detailed plan of event, mapping activities and attractions. They considered that event is produced for a non-profit organization with limited budget, thus the resources are rather ideas and creativity than money.
As a result, they managed to transform Porvoo Campus - the event venue, into an adventurous treasure hunt. The children were greeted by hosts dressed in fantasy costumes and the entrance area was dominated by an inflatable bouncing castle. In the gift shop and candy store offered by sponsors the children could select toys and hobby utensils as well as enjoy complimentary candy. A dog-room , where well-trained dogs offered comfort and proximity turned out to be a real treat from the children’s perspective. The theatre workshop encouraged the participants to find their inner superhero and all children produced their own magical cape. The Christmas elf creative dance circuit was exciting and made the children discover the venue in an exciting way from rooftop to basement. The favourite room of the girls was definitely the hair styling salon. In the music room different musical instruments created a symphony of joy and laughter and in the ginger bread factory the kids were welcome to decorate cookies that were served in the afternoon coffee break where a cotton candy machine enchanted the crowd. Additionally, amazing performers ranging from acknowledged illusionist Noora Karma, celebrated music band TCT to beloved Santa Clause entertained guests from all ages. The questions and answers session with a doctor and nurse specialized in rheumatism was very much appreciated as well.
The outcome exceeded Reumaliitto expectations. The event had a strong return on investment and it will be developed further in coming editions. Also the participants were pleased. The feedback survey revealed that 70 percent of the participants had not attended Reumaliitto events previously, thus a whole new audience was reached with this event. New member applications for children and teenagers were dropping in right after the event, furthermore, membership statistics will be followed up in the post- event period. It seems that the event really refreshed the image of this association, implying that it is not only meant for elderly old people.
The peer support effect during and after the event is significant, young people notice that they are not struggling alone with the disease and friendships can easily be maintained by means of social media. This event also strengthens the identity of sick children in a positive way, since the disease usually affects the family negatively, but in the case of this event it provides the very reason to spend a fantastic day together. Volunteers from regional associations taking part in the event acquainted themselves with the event concept and they will encourage the local associations to organize similar events in the regions. Finally, representatives of the European League against Rheumatism were present at the event and they became interested in developing the event concept also internationally. Notably, the event concept will be presented at an international rheumatic congress in London in May 2016.
The guest feedback was overwhelmingly positive, 93% of the attendees were very satisfied with the event. Pictures were shared on the Facebook by the guests and the event page was filled with grateful, emotional comments.
Monika Birkle, Lecturer, Tel. +358 50 4066715 firstname.lastname@example.org