Young women from St Albans win national Youth Health Champion Campaign Award

19 July 2016

The winner of this year’s national Youth Health Champion Campaign Award is a group of students from St Albans who, supported by Youth Connexions, developed a sex education workshop for schools as part of their training to become Health Champions.

Youth Health Champions are young volunteers who are trained to develop and deliver engaging health campaigns for their peers. They also act as ‘signposters’ for other young people, directing them to other health professionals, services and resources.

The Youth Health Champion Campaign Award is supported by Public Health England. It was established to recognise young people who have developed and delivered an inspirational health campaign. Applications for the award this year have been judged by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) Youth Health Movement’s young advisory group.

The winners of this year’s award are Julia Watson, Katie Jones, Julia Halligan, and Madeleine Hames, all members of St Albans Youth Council. Their view was that current sex education in some schools was inadequate, leaving some young people poorly prepared and at risk of physical, emotional and social harm. As part of their health campaign, these youth Health Champions asked other young people what information and guidance they felt they needed. They developed a workshop; including a video which they put together to help young people consider different messages about sex education. The workshop has been delivered to the rest of the St Albans Youth Council and Year 12 students at St Albans Girls' School. In future the workshop will be delivered to all students at the school in Year 10 and above.

 Julia Halligan And Katie Jones (2)

Julia Halligan and Katie Jones

The award was presented to the winners by Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England, on 14 July 2016 at the RSPH’s Youth Health Movement Conference entitled ‘How the physical, mental and cultural aspects of the school day make for good health’.

Ellie Appleyard and Emma Beswetherick collected the award on behalf of their peers from St Albans Girls’ School and members of SAYC.

RSPH Awards For YCH Site

From left to right: Debi Roberts, Youth Connexions, Shirley Cramer CBE, CEO RSPH, Ellie Appleyard and Emma Beswetherick, both students at St Albans High School for Girls and members of St Albans Youth Council, Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive Public Health England. Photo courtesy of RSPH.

Ellie said: “As a longstanding member of SAYC, who has been heavily involved in our mental health work, both as chair of the overall council and the mental health subgroup, I am very proud of the youth councillors who have taken this opportunity and are using it to continue such important work. There are many aspects of the mental health of young people that have been overlooked, and the work of the RSPH youth health champions in St Albans is helping to remedy this. Winning this national award will help to raise the profile of this work and allow it to continue.”

Richard Roberts, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services said “Congratulations to these dynamic young women. They have done an outstanding job in raising awareness of this extremely important issue, and are a shining example of community spirit.”

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