When Students Visited Hospital… Virtually!

Ahlcon International School in Delhi recently organised a rendezvous with a doctor to give their children first-hand experience of the challenges faced by corona warriors in this pandemic time. The idea was to make them aware about the seriousness of the situation and develop empathy among students.

“Sometime back, my mother fell ill and had to be admitted into a hospital. The experience was an eye-opener for me. I witnessed the difficult circumstances under which medical staff was operating. They are constantly at risk and yet carrying out their duties so diligently. I wanted to share their stories with my students, but wasn’t sure how to go about it,” said Anju Gupta, Headmistress, Primary Section, Ahlcon International School, Delhi. “Also, ever since the lockdown has ended, parents have been complaining about children getting restless and insisting on going out to malls or playing outdoors. So, when we received a circular from CBSE asking us to ‘invite covid-19 warriors as a recognition of their noble service in fight against covid-19 pandemic,’ I felt this is the right opportunity to invite doctors,” she added.

Gupta then discussed the idea with school principal, Sanjay Yadav. “I felt this was an opportunity for our children to identify the real heroes, the constraints under which they are working. Until and unless you hear the stories straight from corona warriors, you may feel it’s unreal. In order to make our children believe these stories, we decided to try and arrange an interaction with real people. We were lucky that we got this opportunity because it was not so easy. There is tremendous responsibility on their (doctors’) shoulders. There is a shortage of staff in hospitals apart from health challenges. Plus, they are all the time occupied. In spite of all these challenges, luckily, our children could get that experience.”

“We will be able to see the result of this activity in years to come, but somewhere down
the line, it will mould their personality, change their thought-process, their actions,
and they will become better and more responsible citizens.”

                                                                                                      – Sanjay Yadav, Principal

The school got in touch with Dr Ashutosh Bhardwaj of Dharamshila Hospital, Delhi, who arranged a virtual tour of the hospital for students (class 5) and their parents. Students witnessed live scenes from inside the hospital – how medical staff dresses up in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), how they carry out their duties in ICU, etc. They also interacted with a corona patient. There was also a question and answer session with the doctor which was a huge hit among students.

“Children were amazed to see it. How PPE is worn, difficulties that they face when moving and talking while PPE is on. Even going to washroom is a challenge. All of us were getting goosebumps watching those visuals,” said Gupta.

“I only had one expectation from this whole thing and that was to give our children this exposure, give them an opportunity to interact and hear from these people; and let the imprints be there on their mind. We will be able to see the result of this activity in years to come, but somewhere down the line, it will mould their personality, change their thought-process, their actions, and they will become better and more responsible citizens,” said Yadav, adding, “This was more of experiential learning for our children. It was a great learning experience for us too. We, adults, as well as children now have a greater amount of respect and gratitude towards the people who are risking their lives, facing the challenge and yet working.”

“From advising them about right food to eat to precautions to take when going out, Dr Bhardwaj answered children’s questions patiently,” said Sunita Sinha, class teacher of grade 5. “One child wanted to know whether this pandemic will ever end or last forever. To this, Dr Bhardwaj answered by saying that everything has an end. One just needs to live in the present, enjoy life and take precautions,” she added. “After the event, many parents called me up to express their appreciation. It was a wonderful experience.”

“I can feel a change in the attitude of children as well as their parents. Earlier, people thought corona can’t happen to them as they are strong. But now, they know it can happen to anyone.”
                                                                                          – Meenu Bali (Parent)

The feeling was echoed by Meenu Bali whose daughter was one of the students who attended the virtual hospital tour. “My mother-in-law hasn’t moved out of the home ever since the lockdown was declared. She desperately wanted to go out. But after this programme, my daughter explained the situation to her and urged her not to go out as it is unsafe,” she said, adding, “I can feel a change in the attitude of children as well as their parents. Earlier, people thought corona can’t happen to them as they are strong. But now, they know it can happen to anyone.”

Her daughter, Manya added, “It was amazing, a fantastic opportunity to interact with covid-warriors. We had a question and answer session wherein we cleared our doubts related to the virus. I was glad to be a part of this assembly. All my friends were happy. I salute all covid warriors who are risking their lives to save us from the pandemic.”

Is the school now planning a similar event for other classes?

“That will be difficult. But we will be sharing this experience with everyone. We are thinking of organising sessions wherein children who attended this virtual tour would share their experience with other students. That itself will be a walkthrough for others,” said Yadav.

“There are many places where we cannot take our students due to safety factors involved, like dams, printing press, etc. But now we can show them all these places through virtual tour. This way, we can give them real-life experience without putting their lives in danger,” said Gupta. “This is one positive of covid.” We can’t agree more!

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