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Innovative health event targets teenagers

Wednesday 6th March 2013 (Andrew Griffiths)

HUNDREDS of young teenagers are going to be targeted in a new first-of-its-kind two-day health event in Uttoxeter which is hoped to create a legacy for years to come.

The innovative project is being led by the Patient Participation Group (PPG) at the town’s Balance Street Surgery in conjunction with Thomas Alleyne’s High School.

The two-day event on March 21 and 22 will see the school’s 278 year nine pupils take part in 14 workshops covering subjects such as alcohol awareness, contraception, sexually transmitted diseases and general health care, as well as healthy eating and finances.

Uttoxeter MP Andrew Griffiths hailed the event as a ‘vitally important initiative’ and is writing to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to tell him about the ‘excellent’ scheme.

He told the Advertiser: “I think this is an event that other areas can learn from.

“Good habits learned at a young age stay with you for life but so do bad habits.

“By giving young people all of the tools they need to make the right health choices.

“I congratulate everyone involved for being so forward thinking and working together so well to allow something so innovative and exciting to come together in Uttoxeter.”

The event has been funded by the newly-formed East Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and Staffordshire County Council.

Ian Blake, deputy head teacher at Thomas Alleyne’s, said the school thought year nine was the ‘ideal’ age group to be targeted by the workshops.

He said: “We are so grateful to the PPG for approaching us with the idea and the ideas they had are central to the ethos of the school.

“To be able to access this level of clinical expertise is hugely beneficial to us and we are really excited about the whole project.”

Dr David Atherton, from Balance Street Practice, added: “I probably have two consultations for five to 10 minutes with the average young patient and so the opportunity for health education is very limited.

“These workshops will be able to give young people that vital information.”

Jerry Latham, chairman of the Balance Street PPG, said he hoped the event will have a ‘cascade effect’ in more ways than one.

He said: “We expect to see the pupils talk about what they learn from the workshops with their family and friends so the information spreads wider.

“We hope it will become a long term project with Thomas Alleyne’s and I would like to see it in every secondary school in East Staffordshire, Staffordshire and eventually the whole of the UK.”

The workshops were originally the brainchild of a Thomas Alleyne’s sixth-former and member of the Balance Street PPG, Tom Fitchett.

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