ZOOM! ZAP! POW!
Children love comics: their exciting adventure storylines; the easily understandable tone; and the eye-catching, bold graphics.
Together with my medical colleague, we came up with the Medikidz concept after becoming frustrated by not having credible information for our young patients that is directed at them, not their parents. After much research, we chose the comic book format as the best way to communicate with boys and girls. Superhero comics prove to be especially popular with them, and so the Medikidz were born!
The Medikidz are a group of 5 larger-than-life characters, each specializing in a different part of the body. They come to the aid of a child struggling to understand a medical condition and take them to Mediland—a planet in outer space shaped just like the human body.
This may sound like pure fun, but the medical integrity of the content is paramount to Medikidz. The content is written by doctors and is produced in association with leading patient advocacy groups and professional bodies. A real-life young patient is identified to “star” in the story, and their personal experience helps to form the plot. The superheroes in our comics provide support every step of the way, but relating to a real child is what certainly helps to inspire our young readers. A panel of young patients, along with experts in the specific medical field, review each script.
Our comic books are accredited by the National Health Service in England Information Standard, confirming that the information has undergone rigorous review and is accurate and evidence-based. Medikidz has now covered more than 150 medical conditions and sold more than 4 million comic books in 50 countries (and in 30 languages).
A Focus on Oncology
We have worked with patient groups such as the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in the United States, The Kids’ Cancer Project in Australia, and Breast Cancer Care in the United Kingdom to create comic books on cancer. We currently have children comics on acute lymphoblastic leukemia, osteosarcoma, brain tumors, and childhood cancers.
In addition, to help young people understand a loved one’s diagnosis, we also have books discussing breast cancer, non–small-cell lung cancer, bowel cancer, melanoma, chronic myeloid leukemia, liver cancer, and prostate cancer.
Our cancer books have been particularly well-received by children, families, and healthcare professionals. For more information see www.medikidz.com/gb-en/product-category/medical-comics/cancer/.
One 13-year-old girl diagnosed with medulloblastoma wrote about the comic book Medikidz Explain Brain Tumours, “I loved reading this book. I wish that when I was first diagnosed with my brain tumour, that Medikidz was available to me and my family. It would have made a huge difference. I feel it is also a valuable resource to be able to give to school to assist them to explain to peers what is occurring to their friend. It is a difficult concept for children to come to terms with, and perhaps it would take some of the fear away, allowing them to support their friend rather than being afraid of them.”
Dr. Paul Veys, Paediatric Oncologist at Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital in England, said about Medikidz Explain Leukemia, “This [book] is a must. I spent half my life trying to explain leukemia to children and parents. But this is the language they want to see. We need a lot more of it, and I’m sure we’ll see it!”
The Macmillan Cancer Support Community in England said about one of the books, “This explains it [cancer] in a way that children can understand, and makes it seem less scary. I really love the optimistic, positive approach. It is clear and easy to understand, complex words are explained, and the information comes through really well.”
The True Heroes
We are working with those in the disease communities to create a brand that children engage with and learn from, and that parents and healthcare professionals can trust. Our mission is to create a global community of young people who are informed, empowered, and health aware.
We are working on new ways to help educate and engage children. We hope to have Medikidz fully accessible to children on their phones or tablets, through mobile games or apps, in their doctor’s office or during surgery, online, in the classroom, or at the patient bedside, and even have the Medikidz characters smiling up at them from a Band-Aid or a fracture cast!
Finally, although there are superheroes on the pages of Medikidz comic books, the real superheroes live in the hearts of small children fighting big battles with different diseases, especially with cancer. It’s a truly humbling thought that provides us the strongest inspiration to try and make that difference. A superhero “high-five” to that!