COLLEGE students are helping spread the message about healthy living thanks to support from the NHS.
A total of 12 students at Northumberland College recently became health champions after passing the Royal Society for Public Health Understanding Health Improvement course.
They are currently studying BEC National in health and social care at the college and worked with Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust to complete the course.
Toni Parkin, 17, of Lynemouth, is hoping to go to university to study forensic psychology.
She said: “I really liked doing the course and learning about diet, alcohol consumption, smoking and how it effects your health.
“In one of the lessons we learnt about how many units are in different alcoholic drinks and they brought along these beer goggles which make you feel like your drink when you put them on to show the effects of alcohol.”
As health champions the students now get involved in health campaigns, last week helping out at No Smoking Day events.
Sheila Jenkins, course team leader at the college, said: “The feedback from the students has all been extremely positive.
“It helps to open their eyes to the different types of health professions out there and gives them confidence to talk about health issues with their peers.
“Our health champions are the figureheads for all our campaigns and it really works well.
“We’ve found that young people are more likely to listen to advice when it comes from their peers and it helps spread health messages to students who may not usually have had any contact with the health service.”
Kay Yeo, health improvement specialist at the trust, said: “The role of the health champions in the community is really important as not only can they help us to get healthy living messages out far and wide, they also help to signpost people to our services.”
Coun Anita Romer, chairperson of Northumberland Smoke Free Alliance added: “I’m delighted that Northumberland College students have achieved this qualification.
“Health champions contribute to promoting healthy lifestyles, such as helping prevent young people from starting to smoke, helping smokers to stop and reducing exposure to second hand smoke.
“We have made excellent progress in Northumberland in reducing smoking among the population.
“Fewer young people are now smoking than ever before and we need to continue this work so that future generations are healthier and smoke free.”