A catchy song written by kids as part of the END RHD Communities Project – a collaboration between Barunga Community, Telethon Kids Institute, Menzies School of Health Research and Bupa – is helping to prevent the spread of infections that cause rheumatic heart disease and other linked diseases in remote Aboriginal Communities.
There was no stage fright when the kids from year 3/4 at Barunga Primary, a remote Aboriginal community about 400km south of Darwin, bounded onto stage to open the annual Barunga Arts & Sports Festival with their song ‘Boom Boom.’
The Northern Territory has the highest rates of rheumatic heart disease (RHD) in Australia, and the kids from Barunga had a message for the 4,000 people attending the festival about what they could do to prevent themselves and their families from developing the deadly disease.
Barunga is home to one of the three END RHD Communities projects, a research collaboration working with communities with high rates of RHD to develop culturally appropriate strategies to tackle the disease.
For Ann Marie Lee, the Aboriginal Community Worker leading the project in Barunga, the song and accompanying music video was a powerful way to engage with those in her community, and further afield, about the dangers of leaving skin sores and sore throats untreated.
Especially poignant was the fact that three of the children on stage had RHD, including one child who had only recently returned home from Melbourne after undergoing life-saving open heart surgery.
“Seeing them on stage opened my heart and brought a tear to my eye. The kids did so well,” Ann Marie says.
Since its launch, the video has been shared thousands of times across social media as well as in schools and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander clinics around the country, with many praising the initiative and commenting on the unforgettable nature of the song.
Aboriginal Community Workers within the END RHD Communities Project are using the culturally appropriate resources developed as part of the project – including Boom Boom – to protect their communities from RHD and other linked diseases such as trachoma, kidney disease and otitis media.
Boom Boom was made possible thanks to funding from Bupa