Here’s the problem – anyone who follows the news in the papers or on TV is aware that the NHS faces some big issues. Our ageing population together with growing numbers of younger people with increasingly complex medical conditions affecting their health and wellbeing, threaten to overwhelm GPs, emergency services and A&E departments alike.

Last Saturday 17 September, Academy@Worden, in collaboration with the National Forum for Health and Wellbeing and the Rotary Club of Leyland continued its pioneering efforts showcasing the power of education as an important part of the solution to these problems as it played host to the annual Leyland Health Mela. This family friendly festival, now in its fifth year, was dedicated to exploit and enhance the intrinsic links between good education and good health.

The breakfast meeting, chaired by Professor Rob Campbell, former Pro Vice Chancellor of the University of Bolton, took place In the presence of Mrs Seema Kennedy, MP for South Ribble and the Mayor of South Ribble, Cllr. Mary Green.

Welcoming the opportunity to collaborate with local schools, Chief Guest, Stuart Heys, Chair of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, indicated that this would be an important role for the Trust’s ‘Health Academy’.

Honoured guest David Eva, Chair, Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust made the point that “‘All the research shows that health literacy – understanding your health condition – understanding how to make yourself healthy is absolutely key to helping people get better – or to prevent them from getting an illness. It’s absolutely essential that this type of activity takes place and I congratulate the Health Mela and Academy for leading in this way.’”

Over 500 people of all ages visited the Mela and were spoiled for choice by the very wide range of activities and entertainment on offer. Over sixty stalls, provided by NHS and voluntary organisations, Rotary International etc. were on display each one with friendly staff who were able to offer advice and information on a comprehensive range of health related topics.

Children played on the bouncy castle, took their favourite soft toy for a check-up at the Teddy Bear Clinic and queued at the face-painting stall to get a realistic wound applied to alarm their unsuspecting family and friends.

Adults and children alike enjoyed the dance displays provided by Academy@Worden’s own Cheer Leading dancers and by Dance Talent dance studio. The more energetic went on to join in the really popular Zumba Dancing sessions or relaxed in a taster session of Reiki whilst stallholders took the opportunity to network with colleagues from the wide range of health related organisations present.

A major attraction for many visitors was the Health MOT – an opportunity for a comprehensive health check and counselling in a friendly informal atmosphere. Blood testing was carried out by the Blood Drop team from the Lancashire Teaching Hospital where as health assessments were carried out by the medical and MPhrm students from the University of Central Lancashire under the supervision of Dr Abhay Vaidya and Professor Satyen Rajbhandari. No fewer than 87 individuals were checked and counselled and 24 referred to their GP with abnormally high blood pressure or blood glucose levels, high cholesterol or a combination of these.

Many visitors and exhibitors commented on the enthusiasm of the Academy@Worden students who acted as hosts at the event. Their helpful and knowledgeable assistance was very much appreciated and the excellent health related work on show in the form of poems and letters was evidence of their very real involvement in the theme of the event.

Commenting on the Health Mela, distinguished Guest, Seema Kennedy MP said, ‘… a fantastic and informative event. It is clear that looking after our own health and well-being will only be of more importance in the years to come. I look forward to working with these groups at future Health Melas.’

Chris Catherall, Academy@Worden Headteacher reflecting on the day’s events added, ‘As you will have seen from the commitment and quality of work of the young people present at today’s event, health is a topic which truly engages our students. We will build on this foundation, extending the role of our partner schools and colleges to make future events even more influential in securing the health and wellbeing of our local community.’

Summing up the events of the Health Mela, Professor Romesh Gupta, OBE, Chair of the National Forum for Health and Wellbeing and past President of the Rotary Club of Leyland said, ‘What a day! Under one roof – enthusiastic High School Students, senior national and local politicians, representatives from Primary schools, Colleges and the University sector, Chairs and Chief Executives from NHS Trusts and other health related statutory organisations, plus a huge range of

influential representatives from the voluntary sector and elsewhere. All of them focusing on their complementary roles in the promotion of community health and wellbeing. NFHW sees this as a model. We will use it to build an inclusive structure involving health and education sectors together in community engagement and the promotion of personal and family health and wellbeing.’

For photosgraphs, please see our Gallery section (Leyland 2016.) Alternatively, photos from the 2016 Health Mela can be found on DropBox using the link below: