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Opportunity to experience life as a medic goes international after being transformed into virtual experience

An opportunity designed to give aspiring medics an insight into life at a busy acute hospital, has been transformed into a virtual experience.

This year’s LifeLab Medical School was delivered entirely online over the course of a packed two-day programme.

Due to current restrictions, students could not come into University Hospital Southampton for the experience where they would normally be involved in a series of hands-on workshops and tutorials along with shadowing doctors and healthcare professionals.

But that didn’t stop the LifeLab team from delivering the experience online, enabling young people to still get a sense of what life as a doctor or medical scientist involves. With the support and involvement from the University of Southampton and UHS, the team put together the event with interactive live sessions, self-directed modules and online activities.

Participants logged on from across the globe
Participants logged on from across the globe

Along with live sessions with cardiothoracic consultant Aiman Alzetani, the attendees had the chance to speak to current medical students and chat to degree admissions specialist Professor Sally Curtis. Modules on clinical and communications skills were also delivered along with an escape-room style learning experience and virtual day-in-the-life insights with a range of researchers.

The move to a virtual experience also enabled the school be accessed internationally. More than 80 students, mainly from colleges and sixth forms, enrolled for this year’s experience and enjoyed the programme from across the world with young people logging on from Germany, Spain and Turkey as well as across the UK.

LifeLab’s Developing Talent Lead, Kate Bartlett said: “It was always going to be a challenge transforming a two-day interactive event into an online experience. It was wonderful to have the support of the University of Southampton and UHS which enabled us to come together to deliver an amazing summer school that was so well received.

“We are looking forward to learning from and building on this experience.”

The team was delighted to receive positive feedback from students who attended, one said: “I especially liked the incorporation of webinars as well as independent sessions which helped me feel more in control and felt personal, while still having interaction with experienced experts.”

LifeLab's Dr Kath Woods-Townsend facilitates and online session
LifeLab’s Dr Kath Woods-Townsend facilitates and online session

The team is now looking at developing more programmes online to improve accessibility across a range of groups and communities.

LifeLab is based at UHS and is a joint initiative of the University of Southampton Education School and Faculty of Medicine along with the National Institute for Health Research Southampton Biomedical Research Centre. The project offers an immersive education experience for young people to understand the science behind healthy eating messages and also supports developing talent programmes for young people in health and science training.

Play your part in the planet’s future health

The link between our environment and our health is something that LifeLab has always been invested in.

Along with our core immersive experience in our labs where young people get the chance to discover their own health and what lifestyle choices they can make to improve it, we have been increasing looking at how environmental factors impact outcomes too.cultivate

One of the projects we have recently been developing has been in conjunction with colleagues across the University of Southampton, plant biologist, Dr Mark Chapman and health physiologist, Dr Lucy Green.

The Cultivate project was all about making connections and examining research around plants and human health and how we can impact the quality of our environment through the choices we make.

Working with young people from Thornden School we were developing a module around a hands-on learning experience exploring that relationship and how by making the right choices now, the future health of ourselves and our planet can benefit for generations to come.

We are now excited to be running a live event tied in with this project where we will be hosting a session online with our panel of experts.

Mark and Lucy will be joined by our very own Dr Kathryn Woods-Townsend to explain the research they are involved in and answer any questions the audience may have in relation to their work.

The CULTIVATE! Live Event: plants, climate change and lifelong health event is suitable for an audience of 12 years and over ,and participants can post questions in the chat facility during the online session.

It is not too late to register for the event that takes place on July 8 from 3pm to 4pm.

If you can’t make it but would still like your questions answered, send them into lifelab@soton.ac.uk and we can cover them during the session and feed them back to you.

To be a part of the event, register here.

Log in half an hour prior to the event. The web live link will be sent after you’ve registered.

 

Young people capture COVID-19 experiences through a lens

LifeLab has been supporting a number of research projects involving young people and their experiences through the Covid-19 pandemic .

The TeC-19: Teenagers experiences of COVID-19 project started with consultations that took place with young people on the day of the lockdown, asking and recording how young people were dealing with the restrictions and how effective they thought the information was that was being given to them.

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As part of that project the TeC-19 team launched a photo competition, open to all participants involved in UKTeC-19, to try and find an image that represents what lockdown means to young people and received some amazing entries. The photos captured the wide range of emotions experienced by young people during this time, from boredom and loneliness, to creativity and inspiration.

WATCH THE VIDEO

The photos are now being displayed on the TeC-19 Instagram account to showcase the talent of these young people.

The TeC:19 project has now grown and is being used by research teams in sites across the world and also resulted in the production of support materials, the #ForOurFuture pack, a free downloadable pack that signposts young people to opportunities and organisations that can support them in keeping active and taking part in activities from volunteering to new interests, academic skills and brushing up their CV.

Supporting #PowerOfYouth Day with an international thank you to our young people

The LifeLab and EACH-B teams joined forces this week to take part in a national day of action to celebrate the contribution young people make.

The #PowerOfYouth campaign is nationwide collaborative effort aiming to empower more young people to make a difference, and give them opportunities to shape their future.

On Wednesday, 3 June, people were invited to share videos paying tribute to young people and recognising them as leaders of the future.

The LifeLab and EACH-B teams, along with their supporters from across the world, put together a video to thank those young people who they have been working with across a number of research projects, particularly through the Covid-19 pandemic .

This research was sparked by consultations that took place with young people on the day of the lockdown, prompting a study to begin – TeC-19: Teenagers experiences of COVID-19.

This study has led to the production of support materials, the #ForOurFuture pack, a free downloadable pack that signposts young people to opportunities and organisations that can support them in keeping active and taking part in activities from volunteering to new interests, academic skills and brushing up their CV.

The TeC-19 project protocol is now being used by research teams in sites across the world in a project led by Polly Langdon.

You can watch the teams’ #PowerOfYouth video here.

Going virtual with our Meet the Scientist sessions

scientists

A popular part of the LifeLab experience has always been the Meet the Scientist sessions where researchers from across the University Hospital Southampton and University of Southampton communities showcase their work.

Right now while we are not able to welcome students into our labs to meet these wonderful army of volunteers face to face, we are working on ways to allow them to continue to inspire the next generation online and digitally.

We want to be able to ensure they are still able to spark the enthusiasm and inquiring minds of our young people by telling their stories on video and online sessions.

Watch this space for more details on where you can see their inspiring work and learn about their career path and experiences. In the meantime if you are a researcher or scientist and would like to get involved in the sessions please email our team at lifelab@soton.ac.uk to find out more and a huge thank you for all those who have done so already.

Our existing volunteers always tell us of the huge rewards they get out of the sessions, and we are hoping to translate that into our online work.

Professor John Holloway who has delivered face to face sessions, said of his experience: “I would encourage all faculty researchers to participate in this scheme. It is a great way to illustrate your commitment to public engagement that research funders expect.”

Talking about the impact the sessions had on him, John said: “It reminds me about the sense of enthusiasm I had and what attracted me to do science in the first place.”

Other volunteers have spoken of how the sessions have made them look at their research in a new light and how they were the first stepping stone to a more confident approach to public engagement.

If you would like to volunteer email lifelab@soton.ac.uk. Find out more about the impact the sessions have had on volunteers here.

LifeLab moves support online to enable young people to complete qualification

When the lockdown forced us to close our doors at Lifelab, we were midway through an exciting year of research and projects all aimed at supporting young people in making healthy lifestyle choices.

One of those projects was delivering the Royal Society for Public Health’s Young Health Champions (YHC) qualification with a group of students from Thornden School.ewan1

The YHC qualification, developed by RSPH trains young people up to become ambassadors for healthy lifestyle choices.

Along with increasing their own understanding of why good health matters, the students are trained to become effective ambassadors in their own communities, with skills to signpost their peers to further support if needed.

LifeLab is an accredited centre to deliver the Level 2 qualification and last year was awarded the ‘Centre of Excellence’ Hygeia award by RSPH in recognition for the quality of our work.

The group of Year 9 students had completed three of the four units for the qualification, when the restrictions were imposed.  After reviewing the syllabus, LifeLab educators came up with a plan to enable the students to complete the qualification online.

LifeLab lead for YHC, Lisa Bagust explains: “Despite not being able to work with the students at LifeLab we have been looking at how our work can continue by keeping in touch in other ways. Having reviewed the final unit the students needed to complete we felt we could provide the right support in order to deliver it online and so have set up virtual meetings to enable that.”

“The students’ final task is to deliver a health campaign in their own communities which ordinarily would be delivered in school, so they will have to adapt their campaigns to be able to be delivered online and also to consider how best to reach their peers.”

“Those campaigns could be on topics like physical and mental health, sleep patterns and social media use; all really relevant issues for young people in the current time. We’re excited to see what they come up with.”

The group held their first online meeting this week and are now working on the challenge of creating their health campaigns online.

They will be considering how they can deliver their campaign outside of school using other platforms than face to face contact with their peers at school.

Student Ewan, 14, said he was pleased to have been able to complete the qualification.

“It would have been a shame if the work we had put in didn’t count for anything so I am pleased we get to finish it off. I have really enjoyed doing the course because I have learnt much more about why health matters and I think it is important to try and help other people who might need support.”

What we are sharing through #ForOurFuture campaign this week

Each week we will be highlighting opportunities for our young people to take part in or try out. All will be online and free to access and will enable young people to stay well and active or encourage new opportunities or activities.

May 11:

All week:

Throughout this week Southampton Hub, an organisation that features in our forourfuture-pack is running their own fitness campaign on social media under the hashtag #stayinworkout. Follow @southamptonhub to find out more. Download the stayinworkout-how-to poster or check out the tweet below for more information.

Supporting our young people through #FOROURFUTURE

Recognising the impact of COVID-19 on our young people has become LifeLab’s new mission. We may not be able to open our labs up physically to help empower young people to make positive lifestyle choices, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do that virtually.fof-logo-1

Using our team of educators and our network of supporters we have pulled together a resource pack that pulls together a number of opportunities resources ranging from academic, skill-based and volunteering opportunities to support for physical and mental health.

Under the heading #ForOurFuture, we hope to provide a hub of information, signposting young people to the opportunities available to them from their homes.

Through this pack and supported by a social media campaign using the same hashtag, we hope to create a community where our young people can feel supported by sharing opportunities that are open to them, free of charge.

To download the whole pack, click on this link forourfuturepack

We will also be sharing ideas and tips online and encouraging our community of young people to share and inspire others to get involved.

Visit our blog here to discover some of the latest ideas we are sharing. Don’t forget to use the #ForOurFuture hashtag on social media.

Inspire others to keep active during COVID-19 isolation

Recognising the impact of COVID-19 on our young people has become LifeLab’s new mission. We may not be able to open our labs up physically to help empower young people to make positive lifestyle choices, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do that virtually.

Right now we are pulling together all our expertise, knowledge and resources to help support our young people through this difficult time. We are already running a series of online forums as part of a live research project to discover the impact of the pandemic on younger generations. We hope this will help inform policy makers on how to get messaging across that resonates with young people but also give real insight into the effect of cancellations of exams, closure of schools and isolation is having on teenagers, particularly school and college leavers.

Read more about that work here.

We are already hearing a clear message from our young people about how they are struggling with the lack of purposeful activity, an unclear pathway to their next step and lack of interaction with society. challenge

As a result we are now making great links with new partners to try and link up the young people with opportunities that are already out there… and here is one of them:

The Southampton Hub, an organisation that ordinarily supports students to volunteer in placements in the local community, is running an Active Social Media campaign this month. It involves a week long challenge campaign on social media beginning on 27 April.

The idea is that young people can take part in a series of physical challenges and post them on their social media accounts. Each day a volunteer is needed to present a challenge via video or text and are inviting young people to submit their suggestions to be in with a chance of being featured.

Example challenges include ‘do 20 star jumps’; ‘do 5 push ups’; ‘throw a ball up and clap as many times as you can’; ‘throw a paper ball into a bin from as far away as you can’.

You can get as creative as you like! If you would like to be involved with the campaign you will need to send in one of the following options by Friday 10 April:

Either:

– a motivational quote, a video of you outlining and doing the challenge with a written transcript

or

– a motivational quote, a photo of you and text outlining the challenge which we can make into a graphic

or

– a motivational quote, a photo of you and text outlining the challenge which we can make into a graphic

For more information on how you can submit your suggestion, please visit the Southampton Hub website here.