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example of the project's
Radio Trousseau-Hôpital d'Enfants Trousseau
26, avenue du Docteur Arnold Netter
75571 Paris 12, France
The sound of children's laughter echoes along the sombre corridors
of the severe burns ward of one of Paris's three specialist children's
hospitals. Located in an immigrant neighbourhood, Hôpital
Trousseau boasts none of the modern high- tech surroundings of some
of the most famous medical establishments in Paris. It is a grey,
slightly dilapidated building that lends itself to the feeling that
this is no place for children. Even so, the laughter echoes.
The boisterous sound stems from a cramped room where seven children,
some in hospital garb, are perched at a round table with a microphone
in the middle. Radio Trousseau is a media initiative designed to
provide psycho-social support to children in challenging circumstances.
It was created in 1994 by Claire Fauchaux, a volunteer at the Hôpital
Trousseau. She recognized that the greatest problem facing many
of the children in the hospital was isolation and fear of the unknown,
rather than their physical ailments.
The one-hour daily programme, 'Les Enfants Parlent aux Enfants'
(Children speaking to children) is transmitted via a closed-circuit
network relayed to each of the hospital's 330 beds. The title of
the programme is a play on Charles De Gaulle's famous radio broadcasts
from Bush House in London during the Second World War, when 'Les
Français Parlent aux Français' was broadcast daily
in an effort to rally support for the resistance.
Aims and objectives
The aim of Radio Trousseau is to offer psycho-social support to
children in anxiety-producing situations, as well as to provide
a vehicle for well children to interact with those who are sick
or injured. The programme is designed to reduce the children's anxiety
about their hospital stay. It also enables children in hospital
to make contact with each other.
At the same time, Radio Trousseau serves as a training ground for
young people who are eager to pursue careers in journalism or the
Radio Trousseau is an excellent example of a truly participative
media process. The hosts of the programme are young volunteers who
have been trained in presentation and technical skills by other
youth volunteers. Teenage volunteers, some of whom travel as much
as an hour and a half each day, present the daily programme. The
DJ/technicians say they want to work in the medical profession or
journalism when they are older. Radio Trousseau allows them to find
out a bit about both fields.
The group that benefits most clearly are the hospitalized children,
who participate in the radio show. Their transformation is clear:
they enter the recording studio anxious, many having only been admitted
to hospital earlier that day, and scheduled for surgery during the
following days. By the time they leave the studio they are more
relaxed. From 2,000 to 3,000 children in hospital are guests each
A second category of beneficiaries are the young volunteers who
produce and present the programmes. Through this volunteer activity
they are provided with practical radio training (including technical
and presentation skills) and also learn how to interact with vulnerable
people in an upbeat, dynamic manner.
The third category of beneficiaries is the children who are in
hospital and are able to listen to the radio programme through their
television sets. The programme is most successful with children
who have already been guests on the radio show as they are familiar
with the presenters and the themes. The potential audience each
year is 45,000 children.
Parents of patients, and hospital staff - some of whom are guests
on the programme.
Involvement of children
This is truly an initiative by, with and for young people. The
producers of the daily radio show are volunteers. They conceive
and produce each programme. The participants and audience are almost
exclusively young patients. In addition, each DJ or producer is
trained by other young people who are also volunteers.
Summary of project
On a typical day, the volunteer youth will meet and decide which
children to invite as guests on to the programme. They are assisted
by hospital floor nurses who are aware of the physical well-being
(pre- or post-operative) of potential guests. The children - usually
no more than six - then gather in the 'studio' - a room donated
by the hospital. Some may have intravenous drips attached to their
arms. The target age range is 5-18. Younger children are given crayons
to entertain them during the radio programme.
The hospital rooms are equipped with cable radio, which can be
accessed through the television. Young patients who want to participate
but are confined to their beds are invited to call the programme
on an internal phone.
This is a radio show designed to distract. Anything and everything
can be discussed but medical issues are rarely brought up. Hosts
don't ask children why they are in the hospital and kids usually
don't offer any information. The aim is to help get kids to lose
their fear, and enjoy relaxing moments in an environment which may
Music is a big connector between the children, and a large chunk
of time is spent playing requested songs, and joking and laughing
about favourite artists and those who are not so highly rated!
Children who participate in the programme are presented with a
cassette and headphone. When they are waiting for surgery and when
they are recovering, they can listen to their programme with headphones.
The overriding message, albeit subtly presented, is that the children
of Hôpital Trousseau are only temporarily in difficulty and
that other children are also in the same situation. Hospital doesn't
have to be a frightening experience.
This is a low maintenance programme inspired and maintained largely
through the efforts of the founder, Jehanne Faucheux. There has
been no institutional or public support to date, although local
radio stations helped train the first volunteers, who in turn trained
Equipment is donated. The project is staffed by volunteers.
Strengths of project
The content of the programmes is appropriate to the circumstances
of the audience.
The project shows evidence of success in meeting identified
needs of children.
The radio station operates on a voluntary basis with donated
equipment so there are few financial constraints.
In addition, through this initiative children are made aware
of the power of the media to transform the daily existence of youngsters.
It demonstrates that radio is accessible to all - even if one is
not a trained professional or is wearing a hospital gown! It underlines
the ability of the media to reach out to all, even in the most difficult
situations, and to empower them to confront whatever difficulty
they may be facing.
Radio Trousseau is dynamic and fun but could clearly benefit from
additional training from professional staff on a volunteer basis.
Several of the volunteers are talented but have not been trained
enough to make the programme 'listener- friendly' to an outside
audience (talking over each other, technical errors, programmes
starting late etc). However, adding too much polish would probably
detract from its off-beat and entertaining format.
There has been no formal evaluation carried out but it appears
that those who benefit most directly from this initiative are the
guest participants rather than listeners in the hospital rooms.
This underscores the need for active participation of youth in media
The project could benefit from a good evaluation to determine whether
the patients really do experience a decrease in their anxiety levels
as a result of participating in the programme.
The use of radio and other media to offer psychological support
to children is a field sorely lacking proper research. Within Hôpital
Trousseau the project is seen as a fun volunteer activity with little
thought going into the psychological impact on the children. There
is definitely a need for evaluation to be developed. An impact study
should focus on the psychological repercussions.
Children who actively participate in media production benefit
more directly than passive listeners. This is particularly important
in psycho-social settings.
It is more important to provide a vehicle for children to
express their own thoughts and ideas than to educate them about
When possible, provide children with a copy of their participation
(such as a cassette or newspaper clipping) to reinforce the experience.
The DJs and producers could benefit from more professional
training. This might raise the level of audience interest in the
A more formal evaluation would be worthwhile to determine
the psychological impact of the initiative, particularly its effect
on anxiety levels.
The project relies on the goodwill of the volunteers who carry
out the work. Without the on-going support of the hospital by providing
a room for a studio, and offering encouragement, the project could
also be threatened.
Children who previously had been withdrawn - particularly those
suffering from maxillo-facial deformities which are treated at Hôpital
Trousseau - have been drawn out of an introverted state thanks to
their participation in the radio programmes.
Giving the target audience a chance to participate in the
programming is more effective than providing a ready-made programme
Having youth volunteers train other youth volunteers provides
a great opportunity to share ideas and encourages a sense of ownership
over the project.
Have participants go home with something: in this case,
each guest receives a cassette of his or her performance on the
radio show. It becomes a happy memory from their potentially difficult
stay at the hospital.
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