Matt, our CAP co-ordinator for the South West, West Midlands and Wales, provides an update on our innovative Young Health Champions qualification:
It’s been a while since my last blog, so I thought it’s time to give you an update on the progress of the Young Health Champions scheme. This is a Level 2 qualification which CAPs across the UK are delivering to young people between the ages of 12 and 25, giving them the skills and knowledge to act as peer mentors within their school or educational setting. Since its launch we have successfully trained 57 young people with funding from CAP and West Berkshire Council.
Currently we have another 47 young people taking part in the course, all funded by CAP. I am in the very lucky position as one of the trainers that I get to see all the work produced and, on some occasions, I actually get to teach the whole course.
The work produced by the young people is amazing and their willingness to make a difference is refreshing to see. One part of the course asks the participants to set up a campaign on a health subject of their choice. The great thing is that they can deliver this in any medium they choose which brings some wonderful creations and truly innovative work.
I attended a course at Hayling College in Hampshire to help assess the young people’s presentations. At this stage they are delivering their ideas to their peers which results in a peer review of their work. It was clear that the young people had fully bought into the ethos of being a Young Health Champion. Their research was carried out in their own time and they all delivered professional, eloquent and persuasive presentations with the support of the Hayling CAP co-ordinator and a member of staff at the school.
I was also recently invited to attend the West Berkshire Young Health Champions Conference in Newbury where I got to meet young people from three schools who at some point had taken part in the course. They all had the opportunity to showcase the work they had been doing and their plans for the future. This resulted in a very unified approach with all three groups of Young Health Champions looking to support students with mental health concerns and stress throughout their school journey using the signposting and awareness-raising skills they had learnt.
We a have a number of groups using technology to share their knowledge. A group in Wales plans to establish a social media network of like-minded young people to share emerging trends in their area, while a group in Kent is exploring the idea of a podcast. We already have one group who are fully embedded into the school Student Voice group who are delivering education to parents on knife crime. Finally, we have a group in West Berkshire that will be supporting year 6 students in the transition to secondary school.
Giving young people the opportunity to make changes which make a positive difference is so empowering to them and it’s also a great asset to their educational setting and the community in which they live.
I’m very excited by this initiative – and so are the young people who take part, as you can see in this interview from the YHC conference in West Berkshire. If you’d like any more information about setting up a YHC course in your area, please get in touch: [email protected]