Over 100 Walsall College students have become the first learner group in the country to complete the St John Ambulance Health Citizen programme and be officially recognised as community wellbeing champions.
A health and wellbeing event took place at the college last week to mark the success of the six-week programme and raise awareness of different health, social and community issues specifically chosen by the students.
22 student groups hosted stalls based on topics including how to keep safe on a night out, reducing period poverty and knife crime, safe sex practices, positive mental health tips and understanding more about hidden disabilities. They shared information, advice and support to around 300 of their student peers through literature they had designed and collected from health charities and organisations. Visitors also received goody bags and samples.
Student Tommy Wellings was part of a group promoting an eco-friendly lifestyle. He said: “I feel that my communication skills got better through the project. I felt confident about being able to persuade people to be more conscious about they use certain resources.
“I definitely learned a lot and would happily do something like this again if the opportunity came up.”
Fellow student, Lauren Hunter added: “My group was keen to promote personal safety, particularly for women. The event was bigger than we thought it would be but this meant we got to talk to a lot of people about their safety fears and how they might feel more confident in any potentially dangerous situations.
“Every part of the Health Citizen Project was a good experience because we all benefited from sharing our views and supporting each other.
Lauren added: “It’s been helpful for us to have made professional connections with the St John Ambulance project team. They’ve given lots of careers advice and shown us how we can network with other people like them in future.”
Following the event, the health and social care, aviation and travel and tourism students taking part were presented with certificate awards in recognition of their enthusiasm and dedication towards their social causes.
Jo Thomas, Faculty Director for Vocational Sixth Form at Walsall College said: “The Health Citizen Programme is a fantastic way for our students to feel empowered as they give back to their communities while preparing for their future working lives.
“The programme modules they completed focused on self-awareness, leading others and health and social action; personal qualities and values that will go a long way towards their further professional development.
“And it doesn’t stop here. We know the students are keen to keep the momentum going from all their activities, so we will enjoy seeing the impact their work has on the communities and causes they are supporting and advocating.”
Health Citizen Co-Ordinator for St John Ambulance, Eve Wright, said: “We’re delighted to have worked with students at Walsall College to deliver this event as part of their Health Citizen projects. Students have developed some fantastic workshops showcasing important skills including how to help someone who’s drink has been spiked. These new skills, amongst others, will be used by students to help develop and build resilience within themselves and support others in their community.”
Funded by the Standard Chartered Foundation, St John’s Health Citizens programme is part of Futuremakers by Standard Chartered, a global initiative which empowers young people aged 16-25 with the skills they need to tackle health or social inequalities in their community.