How could we not believe miracles don’t happen when we actually witnessed one! That miracle to us was the successful accomplishment of the STUDENTSPALCON2015 international conference on the topic “youth in palliative care” organized mutually by the Institute of Palliative Medicine, Calicut and the Students in Palliative Care.
To organize a conference was initially an opinion evolved in a random discussion. Looking back, it brings smiles to our faces wondering how a simple thought thrived through the hands of hundreds of students, who ultimately ended up organizing an international conference so gloriously. 17th January 2015 was indeed a reverie that eventually transformed to a reality.
The day began with the registration of a thousand plus participants from all over India. The zeal on their faces made us determined not to take any flaw for granted. An eco-friendly approach was made by ignoring plastic and embracing nature by providing paper bags, note pads and pencils. Through this we promoted a message to be natural. The event commenced by evoking blessings from the Almighty through “rangapooja” a graceful dance performance by our student volunteers. The inauguration ceremony followed.
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. This underlines that youth is socially committed. During the lunch break, participants 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 jewellery, 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:
- National Youth Policy (NYP): A critical analysis
- Students in Palliative Care: Relevance, scope and challenges in the background of NYP
- The role of Geropsychology in palliative care services
- Being Hemophilic: A perspective of a hemophiliac palliative care volunteer
- Conceptual prevalence of palliative care among community volunteers in Bangladesh
- Mental health in palliative care services
- Palliative care as a part of the school curriculum
These sessions were rich and diverse and made us understand the potential of youth in various aspects of social commitments. Youth spirit was in the air. Between sessions, the ‘Because I Care’ theme song was played to energize the audience who swayed to the music with heartfelt joy and tears.
The third and final scientific session was a panel discussion on ‘Youth as a social entrepreneur’ with models of social involvement. There was some heated discussion though the session was inspiring. The conference was a response to those who question youth potential and smirk at youth for being ignorant and careless. This event also warned the society not to underestimate youth power. Applause followed after each presentation announced the support and appreciation by the public. 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!! And if he cares … how can we not care!!
The closing ceremony was a chance for appreciating the winners of competitions held prior and during the conference. Mr Shihabuddheen and Ms Baby gave away the prizes. With this the curtains were closed.
To care is now our passion. This teaches us to love, live and endure life … to inspire and aspire … what more could we demand? Ask those thousand participants this one question: who cares?? I’m certain their answer would be … we do. After all the conference was conducted “BECAUSE I CARE…”