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Radio Trousseau


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Trousseau Hospital

Contact details

Jehanne Faucheux
Radio Trousseau-Hôpital d'Enfants Trousseau
26, avenue du Docteur Arnold Netter
75571 Paris 12, France
Email: pj.faucheux@free.fr

Project partners

Hôpital Trousseau


Paris, 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 medical profession.


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.

Target audience

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 year.

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.

Wider beneficiaries

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 feel threatening.

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 their successors.


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 initiatives.

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.

Lessons learned

• 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 psychological issues.

• 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 programme.

• 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.

Good ideas

• Giving the target audience a chance to participate in the programming is more effective than providing a ready-made programme for them.

• 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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