LITTLE LUNGS | A new immersive audio story exploring indoor air quality
With Little Lungs we have taken a new approach to storytelling. The story is told by the central character’s lungs, with the listener eavesdropping on the rest of the action. We chose to do this so that we can hear, directly and impartially, the impact of the environment on the lungs of a child with a respiratory condition. As with any of the audio stories we create, we never hear the voice of the central character, in this case that would be the voice of a young child, but by personifying the lungs and giving them a voice, we can learn more, in scientific and everyday vocabulary, about the impact of the indoor air quality on their health.
This unique approach has helped us to creatively explore a problem that is rarely discussed. While there has long been awareness and open dialogue about pollution and outdoor air quality, the air that we breathe within our own homes has, for the most part, not been included in the discourse. Other than perhaps for a family with a child or relative with a respiratory condition (including asthma, cystic fibrosis and bronchitis), whose drive to keep them in the best possible health might bring a greater awareness of the impact of pollutants and irritants within the home.
In order to write Little Lungs authentically and honestly, we worked with tenants from Torus Foundation, researchers from Lancaster University and Applied Research Collaboration North West Coast and with Koala North West, a charity based in Wirral and Cheshire West, supporting children and families affected by respiratory conditions. The experts by experience shared how their own awareness of indoor air quality has developed and where they look for support to help maintain a healthy environment within their home. They shared with us the invisible pollutants that they can manage, such as household products, air fresheners and passive smoking; as well as other risks to indoor air quality that housing associations have a responsibility for, including damp, condensation and mould.
These risks are peppered throughout the audio story, as well as vaping, some paints, pets, candles, wax melts, summer triggers.
The participants contributed to the characters and story in Little Lungs, using their skills, imagination and lived experience as inspiration. Little Lungs spends a year in the home of Max and his family, sharing their story from the perspective of Max’s lungs. The action takes place around Max; so we hear the family decorating their new home, share hayfever season with them and witness how the cold conditions of winter, and rife infections, impact on his health. We share the experience of Max’s lungs, as they voice how the conditions affect them and how it makes Max feel, while overhearing conversations of the other family members.
In its production, Little Lungs is unlike any of the previous audio stories that we have produced, as all of the characters in the story are created, therefore we only hear the voices of actors. These include actors from the core team of Made By Mortals, as well as a voice you may recognise from BBC sitcom Early Doors, with Joan Kempson performing as Max’s Nana.
With Little Lungs, we hope to empower families to have greater awareness of indoor air quality and the pollutants that may have a negative impact. We also hope that the audio story, as a sharing of real people’s lived experiences, will go some way to challenging housing associations to maintain their homes at an appropriate level and support their tenants in a more person-centred way to make changes that reduce the risk of poor indoor air quality on their tenants’ health.
Little Lungs will be released on Monday 29 January, sign up here for access to the audio story plus a bonus package of insights.
Listen to the Little Lungs trailer here: