Young people are being encouraged to challenge their friends and families poor health habits as part of an innovative new health champion programme being organised by Wigan Athletic Community Trust.
The 12th Man programme will see the Community Trust work in partnership with Wigan Council to deliver lifestyle workshops to 90 young people a year involved with its Kicks project.
Participants between the ages of 14–19 will take part in 10 weeks of workshops around healthy eating, the dangers of smoking, drug and alcohol misuse, positive relationships and promoting good mental health.
Selected young people will then be given the chance to complete a Royal Society of Public Health Health Champion qualification to give them the skills and confidence to promote good health with their friends and families.
The project is being supported by Wigan Council’s Deal for Communities Investment Fund which has invested £45,000 into the Community Trust’s Kicks project to support the health scheme, increase the amount of sport sessions with a particular focus on female participation over the next 3 years.
Kicks give over 1,200 young people a year between the ages of 12-19 the chance to play football and sport, on evenings and weekends. Participants are encouraged to become volunteers and gain new skills and qualifications while taking part in more physical activity.
Ellie McGloughlin, 14, a student from Cansfield High School, who has just completed the 12th Man programme, said: “It’s been really beneficial for me because I’ve found out places where I can go to get help for me and my family, but more importantly I now know who I can talk to about certain issues.
“I’ve learnt how to eat healthily and make benefits for myself within my own body. I’m not as insecure as I was and am certainly more confident about the way I look. All the girls have helped me as well so it’s been really, really good for me.”
The Deal for Communities Investment Fund allows communities to help solve some of the borough’s biggest social problems, and is an informal contract between the council and residents which includes a commitment from both sides to work together to make Wigan Borough a better place.
Professor Kate Ardern, Director of Public Health at Wigan Council, said: “It is a priority for Wigan Council that our young people know how to look after their health and wellbeing and be able to support others.
“The Young Health Champion programme is a great way to introduce them to positive health behaviours and the services available in Wigan. It’s all about early intervention, making sure our younger generations are confident and able to make healthy life choices which will mean they live longer, healthier lives.”
To measure the impact of the project, the Community Trust will be working with health consultants Progress Health Partnership to evaluate the success of the scheme.
Tom Flower, Head of Community at Wigan Athletic Community Trust, said: “The partnership between Wigan Council and ourselves gets stronger and stronger every year and we are very proud to be part of the Deal for Communities Investment Fund.
“Kicks reaches 100’s of young people a week right across Wigan and its only right that our coaches talk to them about their health and lifestyles and challenge any negative behaviours. The 12th Man scheme will help re-enforce these messages and hopefully lead to better health outcomes for young people and their families.”
For more information about the 12th Man programme, please email Wigan Athletic Community Trust Inclusion Officer Rachel Scott firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01942 318090.