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Health Ambassadors promote wellbeing for children in schools

Children have been given the reins to share positive messages amongst their peers; promoting better health choices, emotional wellbeing and exercise. 

School children working at their desks

The community nursery nurse behind the concept is Sarah Edwards;

“Healthy Hearts, Healthy Minds is a lunch club project designed to get children, aged 10-11, talking about their health and sharing with their friends and family, through a fun and informal way – the importance of making healthy decisions, not just physical, but emotional and mental health too”.

Smannell and Enham Church of England (Aided) Primary School in Andover, was one of the schools chosen to take part in the project. Children were invited to ‘apply’ for the role of Health Ambassador. The children selected were then asked to come up with ideas to change behaviours and increase the knowledge in school, about making healthy choices.

Sarah explains; “The Health Ambassadors attended sessions during their lunch break, to learn about how to do this and they were engaged from the moment we began, which was so rewarding and great to see”.

Lisa Huggett, a school nurse assistant who supported Sarah Edwards on the project says; “Some of the ideas they came up with were; to have a fruit-only tuck shop on a Friday and to support the Year R children with personal hygiene - teaching them about effective hand washing, coupled with singing!”

Just six weeks after the club started, there were notable differences in the children’s understanding of the areas they had covered in the sessions, and teachers were really impressed with the impact the Health Ambassadors had made in the school.

Headteacher at Smannell School, Peter Shaw says; “The children took their roles very seriously and had fun learning through the healthy hearts, healthy minds project.

“They have made a huge achievement simply by raising the profile of health across the school. I am really proud of the children for all their efforts. Our school has definitely benefitted from the experience and we would recommend other schools give it a go”.

Some of the feedback from the children was also captured and showed the enjoyment they had:

“lunch club lets you express your feelings”

“I have enjoyed it so much”

“I really want my Mum and Dad to see all the hard work I have done”

Due to the great success the project has had; the Healthy Hearts, Healthy Minds lunch club project is now being rolled out to other schools in the Andover and Winchester area with similar positive outcomes expected.

Hampshire County Council commissions the school nursing service from Public Health.  Councillor Patricia Stallard, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Public Health said; “The Healthy Hearts, Healthy Minds project provides children with key opportunities to develop their own health skills and experiences, take on leadership roles and responsibility within their school environment and share their learning not only with other children at the school but also with their families. Through this project, children can make healthy lifestyles fun and engaging for themselves and their classmates. We are very pleased to see schools working innovately in this way, with the support of the Southern Health School Nursing service”.