RSPH has launched the Level 2 Certificate in Youth Health Champions nationally at a ceremony, with Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England, celebrating the first ‘graduates’.

This innovative new qualification is targeted at school students aged 14-18 and has been developed to enable young people to act as ‘health advisors’ to their peers. 

The training, which takes less than 40 hours to complete, empowers the students to explore the causes and consequences of unhealthy behaviours and how to provide help and support to anyone engaged in activities that might damage their health, including smoking, unhealthy diets and alcohol misuse.

Building on the successful Youth Health Champion programme initiated by NHS North East Essex, the Ofqual recognised qualification will now be available to support young people nationally, particularly as they transition from school to the next stage of their education or training.

The launch ceremony will celebrate the graduation of the first Youth Health Champions, from Manningtree School in Essex, followed by a short film made by the students, and a presentation by Duncan Selbie.

Shirley Cramer, Chief Executive of RSPH said: “In order to tackle the growing burden of health inequalities, it is essential that we focus on the next generation educating them from a young age of the importance of making healthy choices. Our new qualification, the Level 2 Certificate in Youth Health Champions is the first of its kind to enable students to develop the skills and the knowledge to not only support their peers to live healthier lives, but also to increase their own knowledge and awareness. The qualification will also contribute to their personal development by improving their communication and planning skills, as well giving them responsibility and a greater sense of empowerment.

“RSPH has a strong track record in developing national education and training pathways and the Youth Health Champions qualification is the next stage in moving the concept into more and varied settings.”

Duncan Selbie, CEO of Public Health England said: “I am delighted that RSPH are launching the Certificate in Youth Health Champions. As evidence suggests that we are more likely to seek advice from our peers, this exciting initiative has the potential to be incredibly effective at getting health messages across to other students and therefore making a notable difference to the health of others.”