Summer at the Florence Nightingale Museum

Museum and heritage work always seem to hold a charm for the population. There is an element of the mystical, unknown and curious about the behind workings of a museum. Perhaps, this is why we all were attracted to the opportunity to be a member of the Florence Nightingale’s Youth Panel.  However, it was the interesting exhibition, the engaging project and the charming museum itself which meant we spent a few weeks of our summer holiday working toward a project on sun safety inspired by ‘The Kiss of Light’ exhibition in the Florence Nightingale Museum.  We were fortunate enough to be guided in our project by Stephanie who was as warm as anything could be, encouraging and inspiring with her passion for history and the iconic lady Florence Nightingale.  She organised some great workshops for us including a poetry work shop with Simon Barraclough, author of Sun Spots.


At the beginning of our first meeting, Stephanie made us all feel like part of the museum as she showed us round the exhibitions and taught us all about Florence Nightingale and her amazing life. After this introduction, we all ran head first into our project, mind mapping ideas and developing them.  Any awkwardness between the youth panel immediately faded away as History, medicine and Florence Nightingale united us.  From then onwards we endeavoured to make our Youth Panel Project have a positive and lasting impact.


We decided early on that we wanted the project to be targeted at young people around our age and we wanted to raise awareness with them about the risks the sun poses and equally tackle the pressure in the media to be bronzed. We wanted to encourage the idea that happiness and health were far more important than looking like celebrities or other figures in the media. Initially, we did research so that we would have figures and statistics to back up our campaign.  One of the most shocking figures we found was that if an individual is severely burnt twice before they are eighteen, their risk of skin cancer increases by fifty percent. Statistics like these spurred us on as worked towards an informative booklet for the museum. To ensure the booklet was reflective of young people’s views, we had conversations with our friends and included them throughout so the booklet demonstrates the different perceptions of young people when it comes to the sun.  We also decided the best way to reach a number of people would be through social media. Fortunately, Kids in Museums were running a Twitter takeover day. We organised our twitter takeover for a few days later, and it was a success. Kids in Museums were highly supportive and often retweeted our messages so more people could see them, which was really supportive and meant a lot.


Overall, we believe that we fulfilled our intention to illustrate to all visitors of the museum that light can have many health benefits but equally raise their awareness about sun protection and the danger of sun burn and excessive tanning.  It was an incredibly rewarding experience and we would highly recommend becoming a youth panel member to other young people. It gives a great insight into the workings of a museum, a chance to make new friends and an opportunity to make a difference!

Youth Panel Members 2015, Lydia, Hameda and Karen

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