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What is Young People’s Health Focus Week? (March 5th-9th 2018)

Monday 5th to Friday 9th March is Young People’s Health Focus Week. Why do we need a focus week for this?  Although the years from 10-24 are amongst the healthiest in our lives, what happens during this time lays down the foundation for everything that follows.  If we get it right for young people, and invest in their health during these critical years of development, then we will reap the rewards as they age.  That means less pressure on the health service, happier people, and fewer long-term chronic conditions.  Win win.

But issues around youth health are often bundled up with what happens for younger children or older adults.  We need to think about this age as a unique developmental stage, not just an in-between, not quite child, not quite adult stage.  And – most critically – we need to give young people a voice to say what matters to them.  What are the key health issues that preoccupy them?  What do they feel about services they use?  What do they think the priorities should be?   If we listen to them we are more likely to get it right. 

Brathay Resi - Young People's Health Champions

Answers to these questions help us to focus – hence the title of the week!  Young people’s Health Focus Week raises awareness of the most important health concerns of young people, alerting policy makers, and allowing a three way communication between young people, the voluntary sector, and health sector partners such as the NHS and Public Health England.  So that we can get it right. 

Dr Ann Hagell is Research Lead at the Association for Young People’s Health

Young People’s Health Focus Week is coordinated by the Young People’s Health Partnership, which is led by the Association for Young People’s Health.  This is a collaboration of six voluntary sector organisations across England from the youth and young people’s health sectors. Together with AYPH the partnership includes: Addaction, BrookStreetGames, UK Youth and Youth Access. For more information see http://www.youngpeopleshealth.org.uk/yphp.

Want to know more? Click here to read Tanne Spielman (Senior Campaign Officer, Children and Young People - Time to Change) on 'Attitudes for a New Generation'

 Brathay Resi - Young People's Health Champions

Why do we need Young Health Champions?

The first argument in the NHS Five Year Forward View (2015) is unambiguous: the future health of millions of children and young people is dependent on a ‘radical upgrade in prevention and public health’.  Twelve years ago Derek Wanless’ health review warned that unless the country took prevention seriously we would be faced with a sharply rising burden of avoidable illness. That warning was not heeded and, according to Simon Stevens, the NHS is now on the hook for the consequences.

The good news is that the change makers are in place, in local communities, in cities, towns and rural areas across the country.  They are young volunteers, male and female, between the ages of 14 and 25, who want to lead by example.  They are learning about what keeps them healthy, not just lifestyle but the wider determinants too, and they want to share that knowledge with their peers.

Read feedback from our Young Health Champions! Click [1][2], or [3] or view the video below!

Peer education is an effective, evidence-based approach for enhancing the young volunteer workforce capacity and, at the same time, delivering health messages in schools and communities.

StreetGames, the national youth charity, has been active in this field for eight years.  We believe in putting young people with lived experience in the driving seat.  Young people and their families growing up in the most deprived communities in the country are in the best position to know what help is needed.  Peer education and support are most acceptable to young people: peer approaches are empowering for both the giver and the recipient and bypass resistance to traditional messages and messengers. 

StreetGames is proud to be leading on this area of work for the Young People’s Health Partnership.  We invite you to follow our news and updates on @StreetGames.  You can also contact our Head of Health, Paul Jarvis-Beesley, on 07889 046106 or paul.jarvis@streetgames.org

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