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By Danielle Long, Acting APAC Editor

March 2, 2023 | 5 min read

The poignant lyrics of the Simple Minds' iconic 80s hit 'Don't You (Forget About Me)' are serving as a rallying cry in a campaign to reconnect seriously ill children with school.

Built off the insight that isolation is more detrimental to children than illness, the campaign promotes the launch of a revolutionary nationwide pilot program to help vulnerable and ill children stay connected to their lessons and peers when they are unable to physically attend school.

The Seen&Heard initiative, by MissingSchool, help schools adopt ‘teach once’ telepresence technology in order to support students, parents and carers in real time. Through the use of school robots and educational animations, children can stay connected to their peers.

The campaign aims to highlight the importance of connection and interaction - even when children cannot be physically present at school. It portrays a children's choir performing with sick children taking part through the use of assistive telepresence robots.

A collaboration between Cocogun, Scoundrel, Rumble, UnLtd and Zenith, the campaign aims to promote the program, which aims to scale beyond the one-year pilot program to reach all schools by 2025.

Megan Gilmour, founder and CEO, MissingSchool said: “School is a right for every child, yet up to a third or 1.2 million of our nation’s children with a complex medical or mental health condition can face school isolation. Beyond the everyday trauma of their health crisis, they feel forgotten and isolated, through no fault of their own.

“The Seen&Heard pilot, spearheaded by the integrated Don’t you forget about me campaign, will assist schools and families in reconnecting kids stuck at home in a health crisis. The only cure for absence is presence, through telepresence technology and a dedicated support service.”

Chiquita King, managing director of Cocogun, said: “This campaign was informed by a simple truth - isolation is more detrimental to our children than illness."

“Don’t you forget about me is a powerful cry for help and a sobering reminder that it is easy to make children feel seen and heard and therefore included. This campaign has been a project governed by passion, commitment and resilience. Our jobs are the best in the world - working with awesome humans creating work that contributes to making a difference.”

Director James Dive was struck by the poignant conundrum at the heart of the challenge: “Telepresence in Australian schools is a bittersweet conversation,” he said.

“We know the technology makes a huge difference to kids’ wellbeing, yet so few have access to it. This bittersweet equation became the basis of the film. There is hope, but equally this underlying void.”

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This campaign, which will run across TV, OOH and digital, is supported with pro bono media from Nine, Seven, Paramount, SBS, Domain, ARN, ATN, Tonic Media Network, Gumtree, Broadsheet, News, ACM, QMS and JCD.

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