Nursing professor’s video wins advertising’s ADDY awards, heads to nationals

Little boy drawing a picture

A video created to recruit families for a research study run by Terrah Akard, PhD ‘08, MSN ‘01, RN, FAAN, associate professor in the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing (VUSN), has advanced to the national American Advertising Awards (formerly the ADDYs) competition where it will compete for the advertising industry’s best Public Service Online Film/Video/Sound award.

The video, “Moving Day,” won gold, silver and Best of Show awards in the Nashville American Advertising Awards competition earlier in March. It advanced to the association’s district awards in Jackson, Mississippi, where it again won gold. That honor propelled it to the national competition, which will be held in Chicago on June 8. The competition is the advertising industry’s largest, attracting more than 40,000 local entries every year.

“Moving Day” was created by Nashville’s Paramore Digital to encourage families to participate in Associate Professor Terrah AkardAkard’s research on digital storytelling by children with cancer. It intersperses video of a mother packing her son’s belongings with footage of the young boy drawing a picture and hiding it on his bookshelf to be found later by his family.

“The video is based on a true story I heard about a child with a life-threatening condition,” Akard said. “Children who are seriously ill often want to do or say something special for their loved ones. We thought kids would want to develop stories about their illnesses, but kids have taught us that they want to create stories about who they are — including things they like to do and important people in their lives. Encouraging them to create and tell their own stories can help children and their families communicate, cope and adjust.”

Akard’s four-year study tests internet recruitment and a web-based tool that helps children and teens, ages 7 to 17, create digital stories. As part of the research, Akard posted and advertised on Facebook for parents of children with advanced or relapsed cancer. She worked with Paramore on a campaign to attract parents’ attention and explain the project. Recruiting via the internet allows Akard and research coordinator Sarah Wray, CPNP, to study a statistically significant and geographically diverse population.

Matt Burch, Paramore’s vice president of strategy, says that working on the campaign was one of the most rewarding experiences of his life. “Terrah, Sarah and the entire Vanderbilt team had such a vision for this project,” he said. “We were completely inspired and we’re so proud we were able to connect families facing childhood cancer to this innovative study.”

Akard said, “Matt and his team not only understood, but shared our ultimate goal to decrease suffering and enhance life for these children and their families. The video created by Paramore brought that goal to life and helped us successfully recruit the sample we needed to achieve our study aims. It’s been an absolute joy to collaborate with them on this project.”

Akard’s research is in partnership with the Palliative Care Research Cooperative (PRCC), and is supported by a $1.8 million grant from the National Institute of Nursing Research of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) under award number R01NR015353.


Top: Still from “Moving Day” video by Paramore Digital

Terrah Akard:photo: Daniel Dubois/Vanderbilt University