Fairfield University nursing professor wins international award for website

Fairfield University assistant professor of nursing, Joan Fleitas, Ed.D., took home first prize at the Cable and Wireless Childnet International Awards ceremony last month in Barbados for her website, Band-Aides & Blackboards. Now in its third year, the program rewards those who are developing outstanding Internet projects which benefit children world-wide.

Dr. Fleitas, the only U.S. recipient in a field of 11 awardees, single handedly produced what she calls a "cyber-slate designed to give a voice to children with chronic illness or other serious medical problems." Band-Aides & Blackboards is arranged on brightly colored, inviting pages which contain children's stories and artwork, poetry, a hospital tour as well as advice for parents and siblings of disabled or sick children. There are pages for kids, teens and adults; simply click on the appropriate "frog pond."

In presenting the award the judges said, "Joan Fleitas has produced a powerful resource which provides us with a rare glimpse of children who have a lot to teach a world too often insensitive to what it's like to be teased and excluded because of differences. Her work demonstrates just what one person's labor of love can achieve. Every hospital in the world should have a link to this site!"

Childnet International is a non-profit organization seeking to make the Internet a safe, inviting place for children. Their awards, sponsored by Cable & Wireless, aim to highlight and reward children and those working on their behalf who, despite limited resources, are developing inspirational, world-class projects. This year's program attracted entries from 26 countries and every continent. Eleven projects were selected as winners; 11 more received commendations.

Of the awards, Chris O'Hanlon, chief executive of Spike Communications wrote: "The Childnet International Awards are an uncomfortable reminder to those of us who are rewarded for exploiting the commercial potential of the Net that we are nowhere near the cutting edge of communication, education and social change. Instead, under-funded community organizations, schools and children are leading the way."

Dr. Fleitas said, "The honor the Childnet has awarded Band-Aides & Blackboards has served to build a net that will wrap all children in its embrace. Those who have shared their stories have told me how very special they feel when they receive mail from around the world. Some of their classmates treat them differently now - kinder, friendlier - now that they understand. Because of that, I'd like to see the site linked to all classrooms since healthy children need to learn these stories too."

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on May 16, 2000

Vol. 32, No. 230

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