Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke offers a range of health promotion talks and programmes for schools.
NICHS’s Schools Programme is based on the belief that prevention is better than a cure and that it is important to educate children so that they can make healthy choices as they grow up and avoid future illness.
Many of the key health behaviours such as smoking, obesity, lack of physical activity and poor nutrition are significant in the development of chronic disease. These behaviours increase an individual’s risk of developing of CHD, Stroke and COPD. In Northern Ireland, 25% of children aged 2 – 10 years old are either overweight (19%) or obese (6%).
Smoking is another area that NICHS must tackle with children. Statistics from 2010 suggest that 83% of smokers start in their teens. Figures showed that 8% of 11 – 15 year olds in Northern Ireland smoked. NICHS estimate that 12 children every day, 86 per week and 372 per month take up the habit in Northern Ireland. The estimate is based on NHS figures on trends for drinking and drug use among young people up to the age of 15.
Therefore, NICHS must tackle these issues with young people to aid the prevention of chest, heart and stroke illnesses in the future. The schools programme targets primary and secondary school aged children to try and modify their behaviour before long term damage can occur.
In 2014-15, NICHS reached 2,354 pupils by delivering Level 1 health talks to 6 primary and 4 secondary schools and 3 youth clubs, and through our Level 3 Chester’s Challenge Programme to 22 primary schools.