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Innovative LifeLab project to improve the health of young people hits major milestone

Published: 12 June 2019
Image of students
Students from Swanmore College celebrate reaching the milestone

An innovative education programme that teaches young people about the science behind health messages to improve children’s health has welcomed its 10,000th student to the project.

LifeLab’s approach is based on giving young people the chance to make better choices about their own health by discovering for themselves how their lifestyle choices can affect them, and their children.

LifeLab educators train science teachers in schools across the region to deliver a fully resourced module through the science curriculum that explores conditions like diabetes, heart disease and obesity and risk factors associated with them.

The programme includes activities in a purpose-built teaching and laboratory space at University Hospital Southampton linked to the National Institute for Health Research Southampton Biomedical Research Centre. Students spend the day in a unique clinical environment assessing their own health through a series of activities including using ultrasound, blood pressure monitors, extracting their DNA and learning vital skills including CPR.

Established in 2008 as a joint project between the University of Southampton and University Hospital Southampton, the project’s success resulted in the dedicated LifeLab facility that was officially opened by HRH The Countess of Wessex in 2014.

Almost five years on to the day, LifeLab staff celebrated reaching the 10,000 student milestone with the visit by students from Swanmore College.

Year 8 student Arthur said: “It has been a really interesting day and I have enjoyed doing the activities, particularly with the DNA. 10,000 is a really big number and it is good to be a part of that.”

Programme lead Dr Kathryn Woods-Townsend, said: “LifeLab was established on the principle of putting our trust in young people to make good choices around their own physical and mental health and that now has been experienced by more than 10,000 students.

“It has been fantastic to see our community grow, not only through our schools but also through our partnerships with public health initiatives. We hope that we can continue to build on our success and that our work further improves health outcomes for future generations.”

Professor Mark Spearing, the University’s President and Vice-Chancellor (Interim) said: “On behalf of the University, I want to congratulate our colleagues in LifeLab who are working so effectively to improve the lives and lifestyles of so many young people in Southampton and the wider region.

“Reaching the milestone of welcoming 10,000 students to experience the unique learning environment of LifeLab is quite an achievement and is further evidence of the reach and scope of the team’s successful partnerships with schools, colleges and health professionals. The work they’re doing today is vital to the future health and well-being of so many students and their families for now and for generations to come.”

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