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Thistley Hough and NHS partner for pioneering project

Year 7 to 10 pupils are participating in a series of sessions which will improve their wellbeing

Posted by Lucinda Reid | December 13, 2017 | School life

Jars of smokers lungs and models of festering feet and rotten teeth were on show at Thistley Hough Academy at the launch of its healthy school project.

The simulated pickled body parts certainly caught the attention of students as they quizzed NHS staff about careers in the health service and took part in a series of sessions aimed at improving their wellbeing.

The Whole Population Health pilot project at the academy will run for two years and is the result of an innovative partnership between Thistley Hough and the NHS including the University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust, Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Partnership NHS Trust and the North Staffordshire Combined Healthcare NHS Trust.

The project is also being actively supported by Stoke- on-Trent City Council’s Public Health team, together with colleagues from Staffordshire University, Keele University, GP practices, pharmacies and dentists.

Vice Principal, Caty Reid, who has helped lead the project said, “This is the first time we’ve done anything like this, and as it involves all of our Year 7 to 10 classes around 600 students will take part.”

“The series of sessions will look at several key health issues including hydration, sleep and oral hygiene. These have been carefully chosen as small changes in lifestyle can reduce the likelihood of developing significant and potentially life-threatening illnesses in later life, for example heart disease, cancer, diabetes and kidney disorders,” continued Caty. “We’re also looking into having a dentist here in school once a month which students can access, in particular for those students without a registered dentist.The big thinking behind it is to raise our student awareness of the range of careers available within the NHS and the pathways and skills required for particular roles, but also through early education and intervention reduce the number of people seeking treatment at A&E.”

During the launch morning students got to grips with trying to move while wearing a weighted suit, designed to simulate the effects of age and stiff joints, while others tried on goggles which simulate the effects of cataracts and had an opportunity to try out yoga and relaxation techniques.

Krishnan Raj, aged 14, took part in a session which explained the importance of hydration and examined how much sugar was contained in energy drinks.

“We found out which drinks have large amounts of sugar content and it explained why you need to drink water. Water can give you a lot of energy and it helps to flush away toxins, and adults are advised to drink around four litres per day and children around two litres,” said Krishnan.

Frankie Barnett, aged 14, added, “We learned about gum disease which can happen when you don’t go to the dentist and we saw some pictures of what it does to your teeth which were not nice to look at. Luckily I don’t like drinking energy drinks anyway.”

Other students booked in for interview slots with NHS staff to talk about their health career ideas.

Ian Carruthers, Head of Widening Participation at University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust, said, “This project is a unique pilot for Thistley Hough Academy. “We want to promote health as a career and as a subject at school, which is where we can come in and support the curriculum. We also want to help students improve their own health, support those who already have health conditions and the wider public health, as we hope students will go home and talk to their parents about what they’ve learned.”

“At the start of the programme every student completed a health questionnaire and we will ask students to complete this again at the end of the programme, so we can evaluate how effective it has been and look at securing funding so it can be rolled out to other schools,” said Ian.

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