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Polish primary school pupils learn about multiple sclerosis


The Polish MS Society has translated a book by Stefanie Lazai and Stephan Pohl entitled “My Mum is Special” into Polish.  They use its character Beniamin to raise awareness among primary school pupils across Poland about multiple sclerosis and other chronic illnesses. Through this project the pupils learn to develop greater understanding and promote greater empathy and altruism among them.

Meet Beniamin

For some time now Polish MS Society has been running project called “Meeting with Beniamin”. The project consist of workshops for primary school pupils (age 8-10) aiming to increase their levels of sensitivity and empathy towards people with chronic illnesses and disabilities.

The inspiration for the project was a children’s book by Stefanie Lazai and Stephan Pohl entitled “My Mum is Special.” Polish MS Society translated the book many years ago.

Who is Beniamin?

Beniamin is 8 years old, lives in a large apartment city, and has many friends. He dreams of a dog, but his mum doesn’t like animals. Instead, he has a fish… But what is most important – Beniamin’s mother has MS…

The story of Beniamin begins each workshop, during which we talk about attitudes towards people with various illnesses and disabilities. We also discuss various ways of helping, trying to make children more sensitive and helpful. We raise awareness about multiple sclerosis and explain the pathology of the disease (our favoutire metaphor illustrating myelin sheaths attacked by MS as highways in the brain, with detours and roadworks).

Polish primary school pupils during the meetings about multipls sclerosis and other chronic illnesses

Pupils are learning about MS

When planning the meetings, we stayed focus on making them entertaining which helps to engage children and make them more interested in the topic. Workshop consists of different absorbing tasks: pupils are asked to write while wearing snow foam glasses that disturb vision, to solve crosswords while having rubber bands around their finders. They play charades and word games. This enable us to teach MS vocabulary (i.e. sclerosis multiplex, neurologist, myelin, MRI). We also try to engage children to think of the ways to help a person needing support. We refer to Beniamin, and his ways of helping his mum. Also we read some parts of the book “My Mum is Special.”

Cross words, colourful pens and images from a book My Mum is Special

Using creativity to promote awareness about MS

We believe that the pupils attending our workshops will grow up to be more altruistic adults.

Our mission is to change the word for better, and Beniamin helps us with this brilliantly.

What is needed to implement the project by any organisation?

“My Mum is Special” book, a copy of the crosswords from “Myelin gets on my nerves” and “Great little kids” – publications directed to children with MS originally published by UK MS Society, that our organisation adapted (with a full consent).

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