Our Health Taster Day proved to be fun and successful, with nearly 50 young people coming along to take part in a variety of activities.
The Health Taster Day was arranged as part of the Making Health Work project, which itself is part of the Foyer Federation’s Healthy Conversations programme. All departments at Gateway were involved, offering lots of interactive demonstrations and hands-on activities aimed at getting young people talking and thinking about their own health and the relationship between health and work.
“The aim was to show young people a variety of health approaches so that they could find out ‘what works for me’ and then take it forward independently,” said Danny Fryer, Talent Agent. “So interactivity, and the opportunity for young people to learn and then have a go at doing things themselves, was absolutely key.”
Other Health Taster Days are delivered by other Foyers around the country, but Gateway’s is the only one – so far – which puts health into an employability context.
Encouraging young people to think independently, and so building confidence in “life skills”, was behind a lot of the activities on the day. The healthy eating table, for example, was a big success. Participants made a variety of snacks, like healthy noodle pots, using cheap and easy-to-find ingredients.
Danny said, “It’s great to see people giving it a go, and then sharing the food they’ve made, getting the reassurance that it’s actually really tasty, and then having the confidence to take that knowledge home with them and share it with others.”
Other activities focused on sexual, mental and physical health. The stress management table offered advice on relaxation, using breathing techniques, and showed how hands-on, crafty activities – art therapy – can be really good for your mental wellbeing.
Health Trainers offered BMI and blood pressure checks, as well as advice on easy ways to start exercising, and Pregnancy Outreach Workers offered frank advice and information about contraception and other aspects of sexual health.
“I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how instantaneous the engagement has been,” said Danny. “People aren’t milling around – the volunteers and our Health Ambassadors are getting people involved and interested straight away – and people are quick to understand how the activities are relevant to them.”
In some ways, the volunteers have been some of the biggest beneficiaries of the Making Health Work project, as Health Ambassadors Daniel and Josh (pictured below with Richard, a Health Trainer) demonstrate.
“I’ve realised I don’t eat enough fruit and veg, for a start!” said Daniel. “But generally I’ve become a lot more aware of even the basic things, like how I’m sleeping and how that affects my mental health. There are a lot of things you don’t think are to do with health, but are. The fact that we’re learning at the same time makes it easier to engage and involve people, which is a really useful skill to have.”
Josh agrees: “When we do group work like the Healthy Conversations discussions, people can be quiet at first, but it’s really good to see how people perk up and end up getting more out of it than they thought they would. And that helps us with our own confidence, too.”
Danny Fryer said, “People think ‘how can this help? It’s just a conversation’, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. Lots of young people have opinions but many don’t have the platform to express those opinions, or to engage in constructive debate. These Healthy Conversations give them a platform. Getting young people to think about how health fits with employment – ‘Making Health Work’- means the conversations have even more relevance. It encourages them to take responsibility and, in doing so, to gain the vital confidence and resilience to move forward in their lives.”
Watch Donna, Brenda and Verona from St Basils talk about the Health Taster Day: