In early 2024, educational animations suitable for primary and secondary school will be released throughout Australia to support siblings and peers of students impacted by complex health challenges to minimise stigma and guide their role in maintaining positive connections. The animations will be complemented by a digital educational toolkit that will be introduced in schools at the end of 2024 to amplify the importance of peer connections.
Did you know? In a heartwarming move, the soundtrack behind the animations is composed by Ethan Waller, a graduate student of MissingSchool’s early See-Be robot service. Ethan, now 20, has lived with the debilitating and little understood neuro-immune condition, myalgic encephalomyelitis, for eight years. As a result, he completed senior study (Years 11 and 12) over four years with the support of a MissingSchool telepresence robot between 2018 and 2021. Prior to the onset of myalgic encephalomyelitis, in Year 8, Ethan dreamed of becoming a concert pianist. While this is no longer possible, as he is unable to sit up for long periods due to the condition, ongoing access to school via the robot, enabled Ethan to graduate high school and, in 2022, commence a degree in Music Tech at Queensland Conservatorium (Griffith University).
Ethan’s mother, Shelley Waller says: “When Ethan was very, very sick, he was unable to leave the house, and it was MissingSchool’s telepresence robot that kept him connected to his education. As a result, he was able to keep in touch with friends, graduate with an ATAR, and get an offer at the Conservatorium of Music, which was way beyond our expectations. Music is the thing Ethan loves. It’s in his DNA. So, to think that he’s got a shot at a career in the music industry is beyond our wildest dreams. If it hadn’t been for MissingSchool, Ethan absolutely would not have graduated – a devastating blow for his chosen career prospects. His dream now is to write music for film scores or release a chart-topper. Every week, he writes something new.”
MissingSchool CEO and Co-Founder Megan Gilmour says: “We approached Ethan to create a unique and meaningful soundtrack behind the educational animations because his lived experience of ongoing connection to school during a health crisis, not only offers a sense of hope for others, but is definitely cause for great celebration. These are the stories that fuel MissingSchool’s determination to end school isolation for more than 100,000 vulnerable students across Australia who we know are currently missing significant school time, with up to 1.2 million at risk of isolation.”