Alcohol education is an important part of the CAP approach, to ensure that young people are equipped to make the right decisions about a range of issues, including drugs, anti-social and criminal behaviour.
For several years we have offered schools the opportunity to take part in the Royal Society of Public Health Young Health Champions (YHC) initiative. This is a Level 2 qualification which aims to give youngsters the skills, knowledge and confidence to become peer mentors and take part in social action campaigns in their local communities. We are very proud to be an accredited centre for rolling out this programme, enabling us to get important health messages out to youngsters all around the UK.
Traditionally the YHC course is delivered in school settings but CAP has pioneered its delivery in non-school settings and for children outside mainstream education. In response to the Covid-19 crisis we also looked at an online delivery method which we started piloting at the end of May.
Before the pandemic, delivering the course required a gathering of young people at a specific time and place which sometimes posed challenges. Our online offer provides the flexibility for organisations to work in the best way for them and the young people they support, so we anticipate it will remain popular even when pupils return to school in September.
The programme has now been piloted with 18 young people and we’re hugely encouraged by the results so far. We’ve found that pilot organisations have been able to take our materials and use them in a way that is appropriate for them. For example, Sweatbox, a Youth Clun in Wantage, put the workbooks online and students are working through them at their own pace, with access to online support when they need it as opposed to a regular weekly ‘online’ class that was initially anticipated.
We are delighted to have been awarded a grant of £7.5k from Southern Co-op to deliver the YHC programme across four CAPs in Ryde, Newport, Portsmouth and Bournemouth. This will enable us to train a further 120 Young Health Champions over the coming months.
We’re now hoping to extend the pilot scheme to further CAP areas, with the potential for a further 70 young people to complete the course.
And we’ll be surveying the young people who take part, so it will be really useful to hear what they think about the course, the health messages they’ve taken from it – and most importantly, how they plan to use their new skills to support their peers to increase their health and well-being.