A NEW education programme has been launched to promote health and wellbeing for children in secondary schools.

A group of students from Sandhurst School, Ranelagh School and Easthampstead Park School have been specially selected to take part in The Young Health Champions programme, a nationwide initiative.

The scheme put forward by NHS East Berkshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Public Health and Bracknell Forest Council, aims to raise awareness of healthy lifestyles and encourage kids to get involved in activities that promote physical and mental wellbeing.

Fifteen year 12 pupils will learn skills, knowledge and confidence to act as peer educators, teaching their fellow class mates about how to live a healthier lifestyle.

Janette Fullwood, NHS East Berkshire CCG head of children, said “As a result of this programme, year 12 students, who are trained as Young Health Champions, will get the opportunity to be more active with the local community.

"They will work alongside decision makers that provide health and social care services, to help in creating the mental health and wellbeing services children and young people need.”

Pupils that complete the programme will receive a Level 2 qualification from the Royal Society of Public Health - a GCSE equivalent qualification.

Charlotte Monaghan, head of Year 9 at Ranelagh School, said: "We are delighted our students have the opportunity to be involved in this vital project, so they can work to end the stigma and silence relating to young people's mental health and the positive promotion of emotional wellbeing and good health."

The Young Health Champions and their wellbeing groups will complete a Youth Mental Health First Aid training session, run by Mental Health First Aid England.

It comes as part of a wider programme of work to change young people's mental health and wellbeing services across East Berkshire.

Councillor Dale Birch, executive member for adult services at BFC, said: “Young people often say they find it hard to talk about their health and wellbeing concerns with adults.

"Local health and care services are looking to train young people in how to communicate health messages in their schools and be able to signpost their friends and peers to sources of professional advice and support.

"The project will get young people from three local schools to play a lead role in raising awareness of health and emotional wellbeing, across the whole school.

"What’s great about this new approach is that help for young people could be right there in their own peer group.”