Flinders University launches ‘Cool Brain Hall of Fame’ program - Education Matters Magazine
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Flinders University launches ‘Cool Brain Hall of Fame’ program

Flinders University researchers have launched a new program, the Cool Brain Hall of Fame, that aims to challenge the attitudes of children towards learning differences.

The Cool Brain Hall of Fame will use examples of successful figures on popular culture to de-stigmatise learning differences in primary schools.

Examples include climate change activist Greta Thunberg (autism), pop singer Billie Eilish (Tourette syndrome), actor Daniel Radcliffe (dyspraxia), singer Pharrell Williams (synesthesia) and author Dav Pilkey (ADHD/dyslexia).

“While the stories of these people are available online, we want to present them in a way best suited to engaging children, that clearly showcases the value of neurodiversity,” Dr Amy Wyatt of Flinders University said.

The program will be brought to life by the Flinders University Digital Media team as an animated series, developed with the help of children with a learning difference.

“Although policies exist to ensure the physical inclusion of students with a disability in mainstream schools, there is an urgent need for novel strategies to improve their social inclusion,” Wyatt said.

Approximately 15-20% of South Australian children have a learning difference such as dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, autism or attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

“Research shows that embedding relevant knowledge about disability in school communities reduces peer-discrimination, but programs to combat stigma against learning differences are not commonplace in primary schools,” Wyatt said.

Children participating in the program will attend a one-hour focus group session conducted by researchers at the university. Each participant will receive a $10 gift card, and will be given the option of being acknowledged as a co-developer in the animation credits.

Once completed, the animation series will be presented by teachers in SA schools, with Flinders researchers recording students’ attitudes towards learning differences before and after watching the animation series.

Parents of kids aged 7-11 can apply for the program here.

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