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Schools Health Education Package (SHEP)

Health Literacy

Organisation: 
Cancer Focus Northern Ireland
Date of Project: 
2012-2013
Geography of Project: 
Primary and nursery schools in NI, KS1 & KS2 across Northern Ireland
Keywords: 
children, healthy eating, physical activity, sun safety, smoking cessation
Aim, Background, What Happened: 

Cancer Focus NI has over 40 years’ experience providing a range of services in Northern Ireland, including one-to-one and group support for people with a cancer diagnosis and their family members. Services include therapies and activities tailored to individual needs at each stage in your experience of cancer. 

Obesity and overweight levels among children in Northern Ireland are rising; according to the World Health Organization obesity is preventable. 

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in Northern Ireland. One severe burn in childhood can actually double risk of malignant melanoma in adulthood. Smoking is the main preventable cause of illness and premature death in NI, killing 2,300 local people every year.  Smoking behaviour is established in youth with two thirds of all smokers starting before the age of 18.

Context of Community or Target Group: 

Cancer Focus recognised the need for a primary school package that was delivering key health messages relating to health promotion and cancer prevention. The Schools Health Education Package (SHEP) educates children about the importance of a healthy lifestyle including healthy eating, physical activity, sun safety and the dangers of smoking.

The programme links with the Northern Ireland Curriculum for both KS1 and KS2 children and is offered to both primary and nursery schools.  Cancer Focus offers fun, healthy programmes to all primary schools in Northern Ireland. The SHEP programmes support the Northern Ireland curriculum and are designed for all year groups from nursery to P7.

Influences on Case Study: 

DHSSPS – A Fitter Future For All, Framework for Preventing and Addressing Overweight and Obesity in Northern Ireland (2012-2022)

Northern Ireland Curriculum KS1 & KS2

DHSSPS Ten-Year Tobacco Control Strategy For Northern Ireland 2012

Policy and Other Problems: 

Although the programmes are offered free of charge some schools feel that they have to fundraise, which can decrease uptake. There was about 50% uptake from schools across NI.

There are a number of organisations providing health promotion messages to primary school children.

Prior Experience with Health Literacy Across Sectors: 

Cancer Focus NI has 40 years’ experience supporting cancer patients and families.

The SHEP package was introduced in 2010, however the Smokebusters aspect of the SHEP package has been running for 27 years, Fit factor and Genevieve and the Farmyard Olympics have been running since 2008.

Concept of Health and Health Literacy: 

Concept of health literacy not mentioned but health improvement and behaviour change are central themes as well as cancer prevention and health lifestyle choices.

Prioritisation of Issue: 

DHSSPS – A Fitter Future For All, Framework for Preventing and Addressing Overweight and Obesity in Northern Ireland 2012-2022

Northern Ireland Curriculum KS1 & KS2

DHSSPS Ten-Year Tobacco Control Strategy For Northern Ireland 2012

Regional Obesity Prevention Implementation Group

Public Health Agency: Choose to Live Better campaign

DHSSPS Making Life Better – A Whole System Framework for Public Health 2013-2023

Formal Processes: 

Cancer Focus NI co-ordinate the SHEP with schools.  The programme is funded in part by corporate sponsors, PHA and Cancer Focus. SHEP follows the ELB curriculum guidelines and was evaluated in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

Availability of Resources: 

The programme is funded in part by corporate sponsors, PHA and Cancer Focus and delivered in schools by Cancer Focus NI.

Capacity-Building Activities: 

Students are provided with different resources depending on the programme:-

Smoke busters – newsletter x 2, resource pack including information for no smoking day, stickers membership cards, teachers pack

Sun scientist- UV beads, sun screen samples, interactive power point presentation

Fit Factor- Teachers booklet

Genevieve – stickers, Genevieve story book per class

Social Mechanisms: 

Interactive games, use of whiteboard were some of the activities used during the programme.

Acceptability: 

The programme was delivered in schools in accordance with ELB guidelines.

The programme used age appropriate material to highlight key messages. The programme is interactive and used delivered key messages in an appropriate timeframe.

Feasiblity: 

Programme was delivered free of charge, however a donation was encouraged.

Sustainability: 

The programme is ongoing and currently seeking corporate sponsorship.

Other Comments / Information: 

Encouraged school to raise money for charity.

Staff members undertook CINI Child Protection Training and Access NI checks.

Permission to deliver the programme gained from principal.

Headline Message(s): 

Fun programme that encourages children to make healthy choices at an early age.

Evaluation: 

The Schools Health Education Package (SHEP) was evaluated by University of Ulster during 2012-2013.

A placement student undertook this evaluation as part of course requirements. Placement students receive a bursary for their contribution to the work of Cancer Focus throughout the year. The dissemination of results and write up was undertaken during the Summer months when schools were off.