During 2013 Katarina Welborn, a 15 year old student who attends PLC, participated in an “International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program” where she was required to work on a personal project to produce an end product, involving research, planning and reflection.

Katarina chose to create a book about cystic fibrosis (CF), which reflects a variety of peoples’ experiences and feelings living with the condition.

There are copies of the book “37 is just a number” available from CFWA, here: http://www.cysticfibrosis.org.au/wa/allitems?p=2

Katarina was asked a few questions to find out more about her book project.

What made you decide to undertake this project?

Katarina: I have always been interested in cystic fibrosis because I carry the CF gene. My older brother was picked up by the newborn screening test as being a carrier of CF, so my parents then had myself and my other brother tested. My dad also found out that he was a carrier.

I wanted to take this opportunity to learn more about CF, I also love writing and wanted to create something that would help others.

How long did the project take and how did you tackle it?

Katarina: I started planning for the project at the end of 2012 and worked on during term 1 to term 3 of 2013. I wanted to interview a variety of people affected by CF, from children, teenagers, adults with CF and also parents. I spoke with CFWA about my project and they were able to help me find some people who I could interview.

Before I did the interviews I had questions ready, but initially I found it hard to ask follow up questions. I got better as I went along. I didn’t want to offend people with the questions as some of them were probably difficult so I had to think of the order in which I asked them. My main goal was to find out how CF affected their lives.

Katarina: I recorded each interview, so the hardest part was transcribing what people said. I was excited once I had finished doing that. Then I worked on editing the interviews and my supervisor and parents also helped me to edit. I love writing so I did find it fun, but also hard to get things right.

What was it like interviewing the people for your project?

Katarina: I found it hard if I was interviewing someone who was a bit shy, so I had to work on my back up questions and I got better at interviewing as I went along, as I was a bit nervous too. I found it really inspiring talking to the people I interviewed and what they had to say was positive which is what I wanted for the book. I found it so interesting to hear their stories and I found so much out about CF.

I decided not to use the real names of most of the people I interviewed, particularly the children, in case they might not want their real name attached to their personal story, when they are older.

How did you come up with the title for the book?

Katarina: During my first interview with Nathan Charles, I asked him about the life expectancy and he said that to him, “37 is just a number.” I thought that this positive attitude towards the life expectancy was inspirational, and would make a great title for my book.

Do you have any future projects in mind?

Katarina: I would like to be involved in helping out at some fundraisers such as the 65 Roses day. I found the people I interviewed to be really inspiring and we have a big community service component at school so I would love to do something relating to CF.