Animation for Education and Empowerment

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Adam DeAngelo, Founder and Chief Creative Director

Understanding medical terminology is no easy task. Doctors go to school for eight years just to wrap their heads around these concepts. 

So how do you explain such complex material to someone who has only spent eight years on this planet? Rattling off the vocabulary of a college level textbook does not seem reasonable, and yet it is still common practice. 

Afi Health, however, advocates for visual learning. We believe through image and video, children can achieve a much greater understanding of their condition. After all, a picture is worth 1,000 words, and you don’t need to spend several hours looking up what each one means.

There are several reasons that visuals, and specifically animation can enable understanding and empowerment in pediatric patients. 

In 10 Reasons to use Animation in the Classroom, Janelle Vargo begins by stating the obvious: kids love cartoons! There is a reason Dreamworks and Pixar are constantly at the top of the Box Office. By using a medium that reflects kids’ favorite TV shows and movies, we ensure that children are engaged. When hearing a lot of confusing terms, it is all too easy to zone out. Afi Health couches complex terminology within a colorful world, filled with fun and comforting personalities. When a pink bunny in scrubs sings about inhaler routines, it is hard to look away. But Afi Health is not only concerned with attention. Above all, we value comprehension, and this may be where visuals are most helpful. 

Images can simplify the complex. Describing how blood pumps through ventricles can all seem very abstract. However, by animating  blood flowing through the heart, the abstract is immediately concrete. Visuals can further aid comprehension through metaphor and analogy. For example, we can display an image of tight asthmatic lungs, clogged with mucus. From there, we can transition to an analogous slide that is incredibly narrow and sticky with juice. The flexibility of animation allows us to find the perfect analogies for children. 

But these lessons would mean nothing if they were immediately forgotten. Thankfully, a study, published in the Journal of Education and Practice, discovered that visual learning leads to increased retention of a topic. Memory is especially important for our instructional videos, such as those on how to use an inhaler. It is paramount that children remember certain steps as these routines can directly impact their health. By utilizing animation, we are best able to instill concepts and instructions. 

Animation can also help with motivation! Janelle Vargo explains that children are prone to imitate animated characters. I remember countless days pretending to be Batman, fighting off invisible foes. While this was all just for fun, such replication can also build good habits. If viewers relate to our characters, they are more likely to follow in suit, and treat their condition responsibly. 

For these reasons, Afi Health believes animation is an ideal tool to convey both concepts and instructions to pediatric patients. The medium is able to convey a deep understanding of concepts by simplifying the complex, and our characters are able to inspire children to live happy, healthy and responsible lives.

Caroline McGuire