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The University of Southampton

New qualification to encourage school pupils to live a healthier and more active life

Published: 21 July 2017
Youth Health Champions
2017 Youth Health Champions

The University of Southampton has teamed up with Southampton City Council, Public Health School Nursing and the charity No Limits to deliver a qualification that encourages young people to get involved in health issues in their communities.

The Youth Health Champions programme, administered by the Royal Society of Public Health, empowers young people aged 14 to 18 years old, in a variety of settings to have a positive influence on their own health and the health of those around them.

It teaches young people the skills to understand the benefits of a healthy lifestyle and to make healthier choices; it develops skills for the workplace, increases their knowledge of risks of unhealthy behaviours and helps pupils to develop their CV by providing an additional qualification.

The University of Southampton will run the course with support from Public Health School Nursing and No Limits from September. The first part will be delivered through the LifeLab scheme, which gives school pupils opportunities to learn first-hand the science behind the health messages with a view to helping them make better choices about their diet and exercise.

The second part will be available to selected pupils who will complete three modules of work and plan a public health campaign for their school.

To celebrate the collaboration, the pupils from St George’s Catholic College, Redbridge Community School and Cantell School, who have completed the course this year, which was delivered by Solent NHST Trust, were presented with their certificates at LifeLab annual showcase event.

Kath Woods-Townsend, LifeLab Manager, said: “We are very pleased to be delivering this new qualification and hope many pupils attending LifeLab will complete the course. Helping young people understand the reasons behind the advice is so important to encourage a change in behaviour. Ensuring young people lead a healthier and active lifestyle will protect their own health and also encourages them to think about the health traits they will pass on to their future children.”

LifeLab, based at University Hospital Southampton, is a state-of-the-art teaching laboratory which gives 11-16 year olds the chance to spend the day as a 'real' scientist, engaging in interactive activities, such as using ultrasound to look at their arteries, measuring body composition, training in CPR and extracting their own DNA to discover how their diets and lifestyles lay the foundations for a healthier life.

Cllr Dave Shields, Cabinet Member for Health at Southampton City Council, said: “I want to extend my congratulations to all the pupils that have become Youth Health Champions this year. This is an innovative way to teach young people about the links between lifestyle and health whilst giving them the opportunity to earn a qualification from a prestigious national body. Shifting the focus of health education for young people from being just about treatment to prevention is important to protecting the health of future generations.”

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