On June 23-34, 2018, IDFA hosted a national Young Adults Conference, called YAM JAM, for people aged between 18 and 30 years old who have an Immune Deficiency or who have cared for, or are currently caring for, someone who has an immune deficiency. The purpose of this conference was to allow young people to use the medium of music, dance and connection to explore and express their Immune Deficiency Journey.
The experience of having an Immune Deficiency, or caring for someone who has, can be an isolating and lonely experience. Patients often feel misunderstood, different or unable to participate fully in life, as their illness and associated symptoms can be restrictive. The YAM JAM was designed to allow young people the space and time to connect with one another in a space free from judgement and set at their own pace. This allowed people to connect on a deep level, share common experiences, laugh, cry and learn.
The use of music and dance facilitated this process, by providing a mechanism by which they could connect and express their feelings and experiences. The production of the lyrics, music and video were overseen by a team that specialises in the high-quality production of communications’ materials that focuses on the human elements of messaging, ensuring that the participants felt at ease and captured their identities.
The young people collectively wrote the lyrics, sang them and produced the dance elements. This process was interspersed with health forums and discussion groups focusing on health and wellbeing. These groups were facilitated by leading health professionals in the field of immunology in Australia. Discussions included sexuality and health, carers’ needs and fears, work and life balance, medical and disease specific information, support and welfare requirements. These sessions were designed to extend thinking, create connections, develop self-awareness and self-advocacy skills and increase knowledge.
The music video that has since been released, has been viewed over 600 times and has gained traction on social media forums, and is also being used to increase awareness with associated stakeholders, including government and non-government bodies.