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Young Health Champions programme launches in Bracknell Forest

Hand with bricks

NHS East Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) in partnership with Public Health, Bracknell Forest Council have just launched a new peer education programme to promote health and wellbeing for young people in secondary schools, across Bracknell Forest

The Young Health Champions programme is a national initiative that aims to give young people the skills, knowledge and confidence to act as peer educators, increasing awareness of healthy lifestyles across the school and encouraging involvement in activities to promote positive physical and emotional wellbeing. Pupils that complete the programme will receive a Level 2 qualification from the Royal Society of Public Health (the equivalent of a GCSE).

15 Year 12s pupils from Sandhurst School, Ranelagh School and Easthampstead Park School have been recruited to learn about the principles of health promotion, research local health and wellbeing services for children and young people, and to plan health and wellbeing campaigns.

The Young Health Champions also get the opportunity to take on a leadership role within their school, which involves establishing a wellbeing group and recruiting from younger year groups. Facilitated by the Young Health Champions, the Wellbeing Groups will deliver health promotion campaigns in their own schools and one primary school, spreading their knowledge and skills to others.

Janette Fullwood, NHS East Berkshire CCG Head of Children, Young People and Families said: 

“As a result of this programme year 12 students who are trained as Young Health Champions will get also the opportunity to be more active with the local community. They will work alongside decision makers that provide health and social care services to help in creating the mental health and wellbeing services children and young people need”

Cllr Dale Birch, Executive Member for Adult Services, Health and Housing, Bracknell Forest Council said:

“Young people often say they find it hard to talk about their health and wellbeing concerns with adults, so local health and care services are looking to train young people in how to communicate health messages in their schools and be able to signpost their friends and peers to sources of professional advice and support. The project will get young people from three local schools to play a lead role in raising awareness of health and emotional wellbeing across the whole school. What’s great about this new approach is that help for young people could be right there in their own peer group.”

Charlotte Monaghan, Head of Year 9 at Ranelagh School, one of the participating schools, said:

"We are delighted that our students have the opportunity to be involved in this vital project so that they can work to end the stigma and silence relating to young people's mental health and the positive promotion of emotional wellbeing and good health."

To support with this initiative, Young Health Champions and their Wellbeing Groups will undertake the Youth Mental Health First Aid Training run by Mental Health First Aid England. This training is an introductory 3-hour session to raise awareness of young people’s mental health.

This initiative forms part of a wider programme of work to support the transformation of children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing services across East Berkshire.

NHS East Berkshire CCG is the lead for the coordination of the Local Transformation Plan (LTP) for CYP and Mental Health and Wellbeing (East Berkshire). Young Health Champions will work closely with the multi-stakeholder LTP group to ensure that children and young people themselves continue to be a key driving force to improving and informing approaches and models of services which genuinely work for them.