Health matters as young people honour schoolgirl

Young health champions during a workshop, inspired by Diane Roberts, (second from left) who's daughter Jemma-Louise Roberts died aged 13 from sepsis, also pictured with Jemma-Louise's brother Joseph (back centre) and Wigan Council chief executive Donna Hall (back right)

Young health champions during a workshop, inspired by Diane Roberts, (second from left) who's daughter Jemma-Louise Roberts died aged 13 from sepsis, also pictured with Jemma-Louise's brother Joseph (back centre) and Wigan Council chief executive Donna Hall (back right)

A Wigan teenager was remembered as part of a pioneering project to encourage young people to think about their health and support others.

Wigan Council has teamed up with the Royal Society Of Public Health and its Young People’s Health Champion programme to teach youngsters about health.

The youth champions will now be able to support their friends and fellow pupils to live healthy lives by keeping active and encouraging healthy eating.

The course was held over four days last week, during the Easter holidays, and attended by 17 people, aged 14 to 17.

As part of the scheme, the teenagers worked on a health campaign aimed at raising awareness of toxic shock syndrome (TSS), sepsis and meningitis.

They worked with Diane Roberts, whose 13-year-old daughter Jemma-Louise died three years ago from sepsis.

Among those taking part in the course was Jemma-Louise’s brother Joseph, her friends and pupils from several schools in the borough.

Their campaign will be used by the council to raise awareness of the illnesses .

It will be targeted at young people around the borough, at schools and youth groups for example, as well as at Wigan Youth Zone.

It will also be sent to UK Sepsis Trust for use on social media.

Mrs Roberts, who lives in Whelley, said: “From a personal point of view, I am extremely grateful to Wigan Council for the support they have given us over the past few years and for giving us this opportunity to spread awareness and I’m so pleased that Jemma’s friends and family can be involved.

“The campaign will be very personal with a video being made by her brother and closest friends.”

Mrs Roberts has worked tirelessly to raise awareness of sepsis and TSS in memory of Standish High School pupil Jemma-Louise.

She recently held several fund-raising events, including a concert at the Old Courts, in Wigan town centre, and coffee mornings, to mark the third anniversary of her tragic death.

Donna Hall, the council’s chief executive, said: “I was so impressed by the enthusiasm and knowledge that these young people showed and I’m sure they will be putting their training to good use to make a positive impact on their friends and family, indeed many I spoke to talked about the lifestyle changes they are making after finding out more about how to live healthily.

“This training is just one of the many ways we are offering to encourage our residents to take care of themselves and really fits into The Deal for Health and Wellness which is about empowering people to take care of their own health and wellbeing.

“We’re delighted to be working with Diane Roberts on this project and our young health champions are using the course as a way to create fantastic campaigns that will tackle issues such as sepsis, which Diane has been a dedicated campaigner in raising awareness of the potentially fatal illnesses, in honour of her daughter Jemma-Louise who sadly died from the condition.”

The scheme is open to children aged 14 and over.

There are four modules, which include providing a basic understanding of health issues, a research task about health facilities in the area and a focus on a specific health topic.

The programme aims to give young people the chance to learn more about health, give them the skills and confidence to act as peer mentors, increase awareness of healthy lifestyles and encourage their involvement in activities promoting health.

They can complete a certificate which is the equivalent of a GCSE qualification.

The initiative links in with work already being done by adult health champions across the Wigan borough, who have been raising awareness of a variety of campaigns encouraging healthy living such as the Heart Of Wigan programme.