150 students from 15 schools supplied with DIY robotic kits to create innovative solutions
• Ana-vation initiative has been launched in line with the UAE Innovation Month
• Key learning will include )S.T.E.A.M( education, recycling, robotics and sustainability
• Four-month timeline includes Ana-vation kit distribution, trainings and evaluation, and School Championship Award ceremony in May 2018
• Initiative also in line with Year of Zayed 2018 as it reinforces the founding father’s vision to encourage new generations to achieve more while valuing sustainable development.
The rising rate of cancer incidences around the world makes it an issue that requires greater community involvement, and the Sharjah-based cancer charity, Friends of Cancer Patients (FOCP) is engaging society’s children and young adults during the UAE Innovation Month to raise awareness about childhood cancer though innovation, creativity, fun and learning.
Their newest initiative, Ana-vation – a one-of-a-kind campaign with the slogan ‘Putting the Future in Their Hands’, is an endeavour to educate the youth and stimulate their participation in the global fight against cancer, by integrating their efforts through the use of futuristic technologies. The Ana-vation School Championship launched today (February 21) at the Sharjah Center for Astronomy & Space Sciences, has brought together 150 students from 15 schools in the UAE who will be exploring inventions that can identify cancer symptoms and will use the DIY Ana-vation kits they were presented with at the launch ceremony, to create solutions by practically applying their knowledge of S.T.E.A.M. education – Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.
Ana, an Arabic word which means ‘I’ in English, is a childhood cancer initiative that falls under FOCP’s umbrella ‘Kashf’ for early detection of cancer. Ana seeks to raise awareness about the seven common warning signs of childhood cancer and highlight the importance of early detection, as childhood cancer is the fourth most common cause of death among children under 15 years old in industrialised nations, according to the latest statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Ana-vation is a combination of the words ‘Ana’ and ‘Innovation’, and is a four-month initiative that seeks to generate greater degree of involvement from the community, including its youngest members, in heightening awareness about childhood cancer and to inspire young students, doctors, researchers and scientists to dedicate themselves to identifying, treating and controlling the disease.
Participating schools were given an introduction to the campaign, highlighting the concept behind Ana-vation, outlining the timeline and deliverables conducted by engineering experts. The students have four months to innovate around the given topic of childhood cancer to present their project at the Ana-vation School Championship Award Ceremony that will take place in May 2018.
“Young students today are leaders of tomorrow many of whom will go on to pursue careers in medicine, research, science, engineering and robotics, among several others. It is, therefore, our foremost responsibility to equip them with the required tools and knowledge to tackle and defeat global issues including cancer,” said HE Sawsan Jafar, Chairperson of FoCP Board of Directors at the opening ceremony underlining the importance of educating and nurturing the future generations.
“Under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Founder and Royal Patron of the Friends of Cancer Patients (FoCP), and International Ambassador for the World Cancer Declaration of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), FOCP continues to give great attention to children with cancer through its ‘Ana’ childhood cancer initiative. Through the Ana-vation initiative, we seek to encourage the youth to create and build working robots from scratch using household, recyclable objects and learn the core S.T.E.A.M. concepts for analytical and lateral thinking, problem-solving, prototyping and building,” she added.
Mentioning that the world has come a long way since 40 years ago when cancer was like a death sentence, Professor Qutayba Hamid Al Heialy, Vice Chancellor for Medical Colleges and Health Sciences and Dean of College Medicine, Sharjah Centre for Astronomy & Space Sciences, addressed the planetarium packed with students: “If you contribute to prevent one case of pediatric cancer, you will do a lot more than I ever did in my 40-year career. The journey of science, innovation and technology is long, but you all must persist and you will see how enjoyable it can be. Don’t ever put a limitation to your dreams. Always aim for the impossible, and who knows, one day you will be a Nobel winner, a scientist or a dean like me!”
He added: “Equipment, technology and buildings do not innovate. We humans do. And that is why families, parents and educational institutions have a major role to play in encouraging their children to seek more. When I was growing up, the stigma attached to cancer was extreme, and we didn’t have the opportunities you have now. You children are the future of the nation and the world. I want to see you all in our medical college one day, as those are the places where you really open your eyes to diseases and the realities of the human condition.”
The Sharjah Environment Company – Bee’ah – is a longstanding partner of FoCP and has adopted six schools, sponsoring their participation in Ana-vation. Ms. Hind Al Hewaidi, Education and CSR Manager, Bee’ah, was in attendance and addressed the gathering with the following remarks: “I take this opportunity to thank Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi, for her dedication and relentless efforts towards addressing humanitarian issues by introducing initiatives like Ana-vation. She is inspiring us as individuals, companies and communities to share responsibility and address public issues like pediatric cancer.”
“Apart from our long association with FoCP, our commitment to Ana-vation is rooted in our passion for UAE’s children who will be ultimately responsible for improving the quality of life we enjoy here. This line of thought has inspired our selection of schools under the Ana-vation programme. Ana-vation is a platform with a higher purpose that will enable participating schools to embark on a lifelong journey of childhood cancer awareness,” she added.
Adeeb Al Bloushi, one of UAE’s most talented young innovators, was a special guest at the event. He said: “I started inventing and innovating just because I believe that for every problem there has to be a solution, and working on these solutions have been the beginning of some the biggest inventions human history has seen for centuries.”
“I wanted to help my father and mother have better lives, and I reached out to everyday objects around me at home, like toy batteries and old stuffed animals to create solutions for their problems. I see the same quality in the FOCP childhood cancer awareness initiative, Ana-vation. It challenges us to create solutions for childhood cancer by practically applying the knowledge we gain in school every day to build something that will help thousands of children in our age-group become healthy and happy. Isn’t that amazing?,” Adeeb added.
Participating teams were presented with Ana-vation DIY robotic kits, and received a presentation from the engineering team on how they will be using the various technical components of the kit. Sample project inspirations like a ‘cancer awareness robot’, which moves around and speaks about cancer symptoms and answer cancer related queries; a ‘safe water robot’, which check for pollutants in water one consumes; and a ‘UV bot’, which will track the intensity of radiation and alert if it’s safe, were also offered to students.
Friends of Cancer Patients is a non-profit organization, founded in 1999 under the directives and patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of the Ruler of Sharjah-UAE, 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.