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Motivating and sustaining engagement of young people in improving their health and that of their communities

Prinicpal Investigator: Professor Mary Barker

Team: Kathryn Woods-Townsend, University of Southampton, James Toop, Bite Back 2030, Matthew Ryan, University of Southampton, Joanna Sofaer, University of Southampton, Pathik Pathak, University of Southampton

Start Date: 1 April 2023

End Date: 30 September 2024


Calls by young people for increased involvement in decisions about their health and futures are echoed by WHO and UNICEF. These reflect threats to their health from inequalities and climate change, exacerbated by COVID-19. To be “architects of their own future” and have decision-making power, young people need training and opportunities to build confidence, and structures and processes that allow them to be involved in decision making.


We aim to explore how best to engage and maintain engagement of young people in these activities with a view to improving their health and well-being and that of their communities Our specific objectives are to:

  1. develop and test a training course for young people in skills to support participatory action research into health and well-being;

  2. test the effectiveness of arts-based approaches in engaging young people in health improvement;

  3. understand how to create a reliable, scalable and sustainable model for effective youth activism;

  4. evaluate democratic innovations to engage young people in decision making processes to influence health policy.

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