Changing Futures: Exploring Gene Therapy and Cystic Fibrosis with Teenagers

by | Feb 4, 2022

Creating an educational resource in partnership with teenage patients, artists and researchers

The Changing Futures project brought together teenagers with cystic fibrosis (CF), clinicians, artists, scientists and education specialists to develop online resources exploring gene therapy and CF.

Supported by the Wellcome Trust, the Changing Futures project held a series of creative workshops to enable young people living with CF to share their experiences of the disease and their expectations and opinions on gene therapy.

With the help of the project team, they conducted interviews with scientists, and produced video diaries, animations, fashion and art, a music mash-up video and classroom resources for teachers.

The Changing Futures website is split into three zones: The CF Zone, The Gene Therapy Zone and The Teacher Zone. The first two zones explore how CF is inherited and the effect it has on people’s lives, as well as the history of gene therapy and the latest developments.

The third zone is specifically for teachers, it includes activities and experiments, interviews with a range of experts and links to further information, to complement elements of the National Curriculum and A-level biology.

“I was given the opportunity to interview scientists and help make videos, which has greatly improved my knowledge of gene therapy… Learning more about it really made a difference to me, and the treatment no longer feels so alien or worrying.”
Natasha Harley, project participant

Changing Futures is a unique collaboration that puts young people with CF at the centre of planning an educational arts package to ensure that the resource created is valuable and meaningful.

Top tips

  • It is incredibly valuable to involve patients in the development of new resources; the teenagers affected by CF played a key role in shaping the project.
  • Consider your publicity strategy early on. We made sure that the website was closely linked to the school curriculum, so it would be useful to teachers/pupils. We tried to highlight our website alongside research developments that were catching the public’s attention.
  • The artists working on the project brought lots of new ideas and expertise, so consider finding the funding to involve creative professionals to help enrich your projects.

Find out more on the STEM Learning website.