The goal of my project is to create an organization that gives a mental supports to people involved in the pediatric cancer recovering process. Consequently, I made an organization called “Share for Smile” and create a home page for it. To accomplish this goal, I researched about the general information on childhood cancer using datas and documents, and then looked into the existing organizations. Through that process, I decided to find the problems and establish a new organization. In order to see my focused point is on the right track, I interviewed the people who experienced the hard time. As it is shown, I planned my work toward the goal.
My project focuses on identities and relationships because my goal was to create a community using social networks so that people using it could feel free to exchange information, encourage each other, and discuss their future. This goal is primarily focused on the relationships that people builds up world-widely, and the community that they establish within the space that is provided. As I was going through the process of creating one main good goal, the global context guided me to finalize and narrow my goal down to more specified one. I had a vague idea of helping people. Principle idea that I wanted to focus throughout this project was to help people surrounding the childhood cancer patients, especially family, to heal the issues of mental side. A global context, Identities, and Relationships was the best fit for me to lead the way to accomplish my goal. People’s community, relationships, the mental side of their identities are involved in this global context, which was one of the main things that I concentrated. Thematic idea of global context and the goal that I settled matched, which I chose this global context to work out my project for almost a year. If I decided to work my project with different global context, it would have been very different. However, I was aiming to make people feel better from the encouragements that they could get from all over the world.
Selection and Evaluation of Sources
a. My Goal
My goal is to establish an organization that could mentally support patients and people who are helping patients with the international perspective. Therefore, I made a website called Share for Smile, which could be accessed from anywhere in the world, share feelings and get psychological and comprehensive support.
When I was seven years old, my mom got cancer. Although I was too young to understand the details of cancer, I was scared of my mom leaving me on this world alone. From this background, I was interested in how I could support the people who are encouraging the patients. I especially felt that not only patients but also surrounding people of patients need psychological assistance to get over the terrible time.
Throughout this project, I was trying to find out the reality of the care that is provided to the family, and what we, the normal people, could do to take a part of helping those who is feeling down. Most of us, including myself, do not know how parents are feeling, and how much that mental care is offered to them though the process of recovering. By understanding the truth of the provided care to the patients and families, there would be more chance of becoming more active on this topic. I thought I could be more aware of the problems that are going around in a part of our society if we are engaged in these things that we do not think about in daily life. Things that I was curious about led me to the goal that I wanted to accomplish over this project. “Establishing healthy relationships with others will help us mentally and physically.” one of my teachers of PSHE taught us that also impacted me to have an idea of doing this project. Through those classes about the importance of mental health and spiritual side of us, I became very interested, so I started working on this topic for my personal project.
To collect information that is from reliable and legitimate sources, which are not as biased, for my project to be supported by the abstract thoughts. To make sure that the information was as unbiased as it could be, I thought OPVLs, opinion, purpose, values, and limitations of every sources that I used (see Appendix A). For the research that I had to find information that I needed, and for the creation of final product, I used websites for each organization to see what they are doing, and analyzed the good points and limitations of that website itself, and the information posted there (Appendix B). I also used official reports that scientists wrote, articles, which were all written by different people from the different publisher, so that there would be a full range of information that I could get. I demonstrated ATL research skill of media literacy by analyzing and evaluating the information from a variety of sources, such as digital social media and online networks with different people through email.
To find wether I could help people by creating this website, I first researched who is either a survivor or experienced hard time as a family of pediatric cancer patients to contact to. It is impossible to get unbiased information from the interview, but I tried to reduce the amount by interviewing different people with different background. Three people, I interview all had a different background. Person A was from England, and she lost her daughter who had cancer when 19 years old. Person B was from the United States and lost her son who was 14 years old. Final person who I interviewed was from Japan, and her daughter survived, and now she is at the age of 4. I thought if I focus on people who are from a different location, they might have the same opinion on negative side about what I was trying to accomplish. To get information that applies to everyone from all around the world, I attempted to reach out to several people who are from an entirely different place with a different medical system of cancer treatments (See Appendix C). Using an interview as sources for my project was one of the ways to show a thinking skill, which is one of the ATL skills. By inquiring of different people to gain the different perspective on one thing showed this ability. Also, communication and social skills were also used.
And to analyze the information on organizations that are working on, I tried to visit the reputable or considerably significant organization. This was because small organizations have a lower possibility of supporting people around the world than other big organizations. It is more reliable to analyze the information that may have worked with wide range of people because they have more data than the smaller groups of patients and their families needs.
My top priority for researching about cancer was to find the exact or close information from different sources so that the information that I collected were correct, valid, reliable, and legitimate to present it and use it as part of my final product. Finding and using the right information was one of the important things for my final product because I should not share an incorrect information to people who are trying to look for a real, hopeful details.
Action plan and taking Action
I used my self-generated TSC to be sure that I made what I was trying to make for my final product. I assessed my final product by the appearance of the website which includes colors, visuals, and organization, and the information contained about pediatric cancer itself, and what I am trying to do (See Appendix D). I choose these to assess my final product because it demonstrates my development throughout the process. Including the information that I collected into my final product will represent one of the biggest parts of my project, which is also one of the reasons why I made a website. Information that I collected and analyzed played a big role because I was trying to create a community where correct and reliable information are exchanged among people who are accessing to my final product. This means that all the information had to be from the reliable sources, and also had to be found in different places to be sure of the accuracy.
The appearance of my final product was also one of the important factors of my final product because I am dealing with many sensitive things for everyone, and sometimes they lost their child. It means that I have to make my final product that everyone feel comfortable sharing. Otherwise, it will discourage rather than encourage those people. My research, the interview, showed that it is important to have an at the home styled website to become comfortable talking to others about their experiences and their complexed emotions full of anxiety, sadness, anger, and hopelessness. From all of those factors described in this paragraph and one above it, self- created TSC appeared to be helpful because all of the factors that I mentioned there were all the things that might help people to be more open about themselves to heal their feelings.
b. Action Plan
For the goal I set, I planned out the things as below. Firstly, I had to understand what pediatric cancer is, how cancer medically and socially affects us. Therefore, I collected information from WHO, World Health Organization, and websites of other Japanese and English investigation center for cancer. I had basic knowledge on cancer from my experience, but I acquired new knowledge, such as the reality of this illness and how difficult it is to be treated. As a result, I was able to make sure that my problem was posing, needs of mental support for patients and others who are helping the patients, is going in the right direction.
Secondly, I approached to the problem that I faced when I thought what kind of organization I should make. Accordingly, I used the way of interviewing families who experienced pediatric cancer and researched the existing organizations. By investigating the existing organizations, I was able to use the good parts, and improve the bad parts of my organization. I used big organizations that base their activities in Japan as the sources. By interviewing to the people gave me an opportunity to think about the structure and primary focus of the organization more in depth. They told me the importance of the mental support and agreed to my idea of establishing the organization.
Finally, I got to a point where I had to analyze all the information that I gathered, and what kind of organization that I will establish. This stage was the hardest part out of the whole process that I went through. I first came up with an idea of creating a booklet, but by using the internet, it allows me to establish an organization with low cost.
c. Self-management Skill
Throughout this whole project, self-managing was the one of the most important factors. Process journal was the one material that stayed me organized. I learned that process journal was a key for the project to be done and accomplished. Therefore, I thought the improvement of the use of process journal will also improve my self-management skills.
My organizational ability of the research, information, and visuals in my final product have improved significantly throughout this project towards the end of the final product due date. When I started this project, I did not use my process journal wisely and efficiently, which made me difficult to continue the project on the other day. Sometimes, I even repeated the same thing, because I did not have anything to make sure that I did the task. Use of process journal has gotten well, which made me stay organized and keep track of important things that I did to complete my final product. As soon as I researched something that is useful for the project, I wrote it down, so that I know what I was doing. I researched the same thing twice and did not even notice them until writing it down in my research notes. From that day, I tried to use process journal as efficiently as possible so that it is easier for me to get hold of what is going on. Looking at the process journal entries, it clearly stated what I worked on, and it also said what I had to work on next. This use of process journal made my path toward the ending clearer and made it easier for me to manage the time well. It was not easy to keep on going with the timeline that I made at the beginning of this project. My time management skill could have been worked better because it was not the most successful way to complete what I want it to be done.
Achieving the goal
As I explained in a goal, I established an original organization using website tool to support pediatric cancer patients, families, and people around them mentally (See Appendix E). This organization could be accessed from all over the world and be a part it. There are patients and families with childhood cancer all around the world so that it was necessary to create a place where they could remove their anxiousness. These days, we live in an information-oriented society, so it is much easier to make them communicate from all over the world. This was very useful for me who’s goal was to provide a mental care who are involved with a childhood cancer. I thought of making people encourage each other and share information from anywhere, anytime through a website. Additionally, interview to the people who went through these affected me as well. Their stories were very useful because it gave me an idea of what kind of things I should focus on, and organize my thoughts. The purpose of this final product was to connect everyone from around the world and provide the mental care, which is a big part of the global context that I chose, Identities and Relationship.
b. Communication and Social Skills
During the process towards the accomplishment of my project, it was important to get suggestions from people around me. First of all, it was not hard to choose a topic for my project, but it was hard to figure out how to approach on that topic and how to develop that idea. It was not easy to come up with an idea of how to design and expand the idea of childhood cancer. Therefore, I went over the Learner’s profile, ATL skills, and global context to expand on my idea and thoughts that I had. As a result, I set a goal that focuses on the environment of patients, families, and people surrounding the patients of childhood cancer, and establish an organization.
It was very hard to collect a lot of information using the sources that are reliable and analyze it to apply to my final product. As I mentioned before, selecting tons of information was one of the hard things, but the interviews that I did helped me a lot. Their opinions and advice helped me chose good information than attacking to the enormous amount of information by myself. To accomplish my goal, I first started to collect information on existing organizations that supports patients with pediatric cancer. It was very hard to gather the information on what existing organizations are working on it, analyze and evaluate that information. The result of the collection of the researched information made me conclude with that mental care provided toward patients and families are not enough; for example, there is an organization that is holding the international events and conveying to the audiences that they are an international organization. This result took my idea to this final product, where everyone could feel better by talking to another person who experienced those things and getting advice from them. This demonstrates thinking skill by applying what I learned from my research to the final product. Transferring one idea to another idea in a different form is a one of the skills that I showed here, and it is also one of the elements of thinking skill.
Even though I had an idea of mentally helping patients and families, it was hard to come up with the idea of creating a website and express my idea. Because people who went through knows a lot more than we know about cancer, and how they felt, so I contacted three people from three completely different places. This helped me a lot because they all told me that they were mentally ill and anxious about everything that is relating to their child’s condition (See Appendix F). Also, this was my first time making a website, so I did not know how to make one, so I had to ask someone to help me learn the coding. Fortunately, my mom was able to help me design a website, so I asked her if I could get some advice from her. She taught me the necessary things, and from there, I had to either figure it out by myself or ask her to help me again, when she was available. This demonstrates a communication skill in ATL skills, because I had to use a variety of speaking and writing techniques to communicate with a variety of people, such as persons who experienced those things, my dad, and supervisor for the advice.
Reflecting on learning
Overall, my final product, a website connected with Facebook, contained most of the level 7~8 things, because it had a lot of visuals and hand-drawn pictures that I think it makes people easier to have a look at the website (See Appendix G). Because there are many visual representations, people with a broad range of people could come and have a look at the website. It also uses easier language than other websites that are aimed for adults and children to have a look at. There are two language options available to make it more international because one of my goals was to create a community where all around the world could easily get access to. This language options also demonstrate communicator, because I expressed my feeling and information that I got in different languages. It also contained a good amount of information that I collected and applied both my prior knowledge and the knowledge that I got from the research.
Through this project, I learned that most of us are concentrating on only patients, and how they are same as us, but people surrounding patients, such as family members and friends are having difficult times at the same time. Of course, medical treatments are crucial for the patients, but it is also important to provide the mental care for the families. It was great to learn about the importance of mental care that are not noticeable only with death rate and other statistical data. I think the impact of everyone understanding the importance of supporting surrounding people of the pediatric cancer patients, will have a tremendous impact on them because there will be more organizations established to help and make them feel better. This will have positive effects on them since there are not enough amount of mental care offered in the general process of recovering from cancer. However, if organizations are helping people mentally, it might gradually affect the government to consider the importance of its care. If the idea of mental care was adopted in the general process of healing cancer, people do not have to feel any anxiety anymore, and could lead to the availability of more frequent reliable information exchange. If I could redo this project again, I want to go more in a depth of the psychological effect of the colors and visuals to make it even more effective for people who visited my website. Also, I want to research more about pediatric cancer and the emotional connection between each type of childhood cancer, so that it will be more specific to each visitors depending on what kind of illness that they or their family member got.
As I was proceeding this project, I developed my organizational skill, which was to plan a realistic schedule and meeting deadlines. I was also able to improve my research skill by analyzing information and evaluating the sources that I went, and collaboration skill when I accept the idea that is suggested by people who are from the entirely different world. As the project progresses, I think I got better at communication by getting in touch with adults who I do not know, and my supervisor. I was not able to plan a realistic schedule in the beginning, and I was trying to finish my project by the end of November (See Appendix H). Through this project, I learned how much considerable schedule planning is necessary. Evaluating and analyzing the sources and information was one of the most important things for this project. Throughout the project, I understood the necessity of using reliable and legitimate websites sources. Collaboration skill was one of the biggest skill that I believe that I improved on. This was my first time to collaborate and ask for help to adults who I do not know, but they suggested me a lot interesting idea that they think it will work, so I tried to incorporate that idea into my final product. This incorporation of the idea represents the collaboration skill from ATL skills and Open-minded from IB Learner’s Profile. Communication skill was also one of the principle skill that required me to get improve on. In the beginning, I was not sure how to write an email that is harsh to a person who experienced hard things to talk about it, and even to my supervisor, I was not able to develop the communication skill and caused me in a lot of troubles, such as not meeting the deadlines.
Throughout this Personal Project, I was able to develop my understanding on my topic and the global context. I improved my abilities, such as solving the problem as I face it, collect information and analyze it, communication skill to communicate with a lot of people to accomplish my goal.
As a result of investigating how to support people who are involved with recovering process of cancer, I learned the importance of giving mental care. This allowed me to establish a new organization, which I strongly think I fully accomplished my goal.
Lastly, this project gave me an opportunity to decide my future career as well as to learn about the things that I did not know. I was interested in becoming a psychiatrist or a counselor to help people who have mental issues and lead their life to a positive situation. However, I was not sure if I want to lead myself to the carrier of a psychiatrist, but throughout this whole project, I realized the importance of mental health, so I became more confident about helping people not from the physical side, but from the mental side.
Appendix A: OPVL analysis of the source that I used on September 21st, 2015
Appendix B: Overall analysis of good points and bad points of the websites that I used
Appendix C: First email that I sent to the interviewers
Appendix D: TSC that I created for my final product to assess myself
Appendix E: Screenshot of my final product: share-for-smile.org
Appendix F : Questions that I asked to the interviewers
Appendix G: Visual representations in website
Appendix H: Action Plan that I wrote