Barrow school children have taken the lead in devising their own health improvement projects.

Dr Sarah Arun, Cardiology Lead for Furness, approached Furness Education and Skills Partnership (FESP) with concerns about the number of heart related health issues in the Furness area. This was the beginning of an innovative collaboration between FESP and the NHS who are working together to prevent people from getting heart diseases by utilising the concept of Happy and Healthy Lifestyles.

The purpose of the project is to help develop conversations and make positive changes in health and well-being in the community. The inclusion of local school children from around Barrow has been essential to its success. The programme used ideas put forward by the children focusing on how to improve their own and their families’ health. The children have become ‘change agents’ and ‘health ambassadors’ within their local communities.

The pilot programme ran successfully with five primary schools - Ormsgill Nursery and Primary School, Greengate Junior school, St Pius X Catholic Primary School, South Walney Junior School and Victoria Academy - taking part in the challenge.

Year 5 pupils attended an introductory event, where health professionals ran workshops, and taught different aspects of how to live a healthy lifestyle. The pupils then went back to their primary schools and conducted research to help them decide on the right project for their own school community.

The pupils were then invited back to present their findings and suggestions on the theme of diet to health professionals, and each school did a fantastic job in developing their own unique projects. Ormsgill's Health ambassadors introduced a healthy tuck-shop, Greengate pupils held a healthy restaurant to encourage parents to cook healthy meals, St. Pius focused on encouraging parents to use the Sugar Swaps App, South Walney introduced "Try it Tuesday" and "Fruity Thursdays" and Victoria Academy put on an amazing role-play explaining why their "Try a new fruit each week" project was so important.

After the success of this trial, the programme is set to go forward in this year. Consensus from the school children already involved, is that this year’s theme will be exercise, with all the local gyms already signed up to support the initiative.

Dr Sarah Arun, Cardiology lead for Furness based at Norwood Medical Centre said: “It is fantastic to see the enthusiasm with which the children have taken on board the healthier lifestyle training and been able to apply it within their own school. We are really looking forward to developing this further by focusing on exercise for the 2018 programme.”