Young people are health champions

Young health champions with Councillor Bullen, Councillor Moodie, Professor Kate Arden and Kiran Kenth from Royal Society of Public Health

Young people have been thanked for their contribution towards improving public health in Wigan Borough.

Young health champions is a programme run nationally by the Royal Society of Public Health and delivered locally by Wigan Council, which encourages young people to take care of their own and others’ health.

The young people volunteered to take training on how to stay healthy and then passed on their knowledge to others through a series of campaigns, which they developed themselves.

Councillor Jenny Bullen, Portfolio Holder for Children and Young People, says,

‘The young people who have given up their free time to get involved in this programme are a great example to others. I hope other young people will take up this fantastic opportunity to learn more about how to take care of their own health and help raise awareness with others.’

Professor Kate Ardern, Director of Public Health in Wigan Borough, says,

‘Health champions are at the heart of our citizen led public health movement. Young people are full of passion and enthusiasm so are fantastic at passing on important health messages to our younger citizens.’

Adam Dickinson, 23, changed his own lifestyle after taking part in the programme.

He says,

‘Being involved changed my own mind-set. It got me thinking about ways I could keep fit, which I’d never thought about before. Since doing the training I’ve bought a bike and want to take care of myself.’

Natalie Martlew, Sarah Collinge and Genesis Martinez are all 16 and from Wigan. They got involved in the project at The Deanery High School and following the training ran a campaign to raise awareness of sepsis.

Sarah says,

‘I think messages like this are more effective when they’re coming from people your own age because you can relate to each other so young people are more likely to listen.’

Genesis says,

‘I’ve learned to stay aware of health issues and to keep myself informed.’

Natalie adds,

‘I’ve definitely become a more confident person by doing this. We made a video as part of the campaign and at first I didn’t want to be in it but now that sort of thing doesn’t bother me at all.’

The young people celebrated their achievements at a special event at the DW Stadium in Wigan, where speaker Danny Sculthorpe, former professional rugby league player and now mental health campaigner, congratulated them on their achievements.

Danny says,

‘Programmes like the young health champions are important because a lot of young people don’t get the education they might need on these subjects at home. It’s great for the young people involved as it’s good for their own wellbeing and it’s positive for the future of the borough.’

The young health champions project is supported in Wigan Borough by Healthy Routes Wigan, Spectrum, Willow Project and Young Addaction.

If you want to become a young health champion you can get involved by emailing [email protected]