This is the second post in a series on how we are raising awareness about antibiotics to audiences of children and young people. In part 1 we discussed the increased risk of antibiotic resistance, which poses one of the greatest global public health threats of our time. Antibiotics that were once life-saving are becoming of limited use, with common infections and minor injuries potentially returning as a major public health threat. Raising awareness of these issues with the public and in this case children and young people is very much needed.
So now we get to the fun bit, and we get the opportunity to talk about a unique project led by young people to raise awareness of antibiotic resistance and improve understanding of using antibiotics appropriately.
Let us explain a little more:
Workshop 1 – Understanding how antibiotics work
Young people from the GenerationR Liverpool Young People’s Advisory Group (YPAG) and young people from Attitude Performing Arts School were invited to attend a workshop held in the Institute in the Park (based at Alder Hey Children’s Foundation Trust). Eight young people from the ages of 8-18 years (7 females, 1 male) attended the first session. The workshop was developed and facilitated by the Theatre Director/Creative Writer from Attitude Performing Arts School with input and support from the Principal Investigator (Jenny Preston), Academic Lead (Professor Enitan Carrol), GenerationR Youth and Family Participation Officer (Sammy Ainsworth). The workshop also invited a member of the BATCH study team as scientific advisor.
Activity 1: The workshop began with a description of antibiotics, followed by an activity to assess if any of the young people had taken antibiotics before and for what reason. The majority of young people had taken antibiotics before or at least had heard of them. The most common reasons for antibiotic use was predominantly for throat, chest, ear and water infections.
The group then discussed what their understanding of the term antibiotic resistance was, followed by the group watching a video called CATCH. This generated some discussion within the group exploring the consequences of antibiotic resistance. The group had a really good understanding about the implications of antibiotic resistance to individuals (more people becoming sick; lots more people dying; prolonged periods of illness etc.) and society as a whole (more pressure to create more antibiotics and the impact on hospitals etc).
We then explored techniques to help prevent antibiotic resistance, which included:
- When you are prescribed Antibiotics, take the full prescription, even if you start to feel better.
- Always take the right dose of Antibiotics
- Never take Antibiotics that have not been prescribed to you by your Doctor
- Never share Antibiotics with others or use leftover prescriptions.
- Wash your hands regularly
- Remember, each time you take an antibiotic when it is not necessary, the effectiveness of the antibiotic decreases and it might not work the next time you really need it.
These techniques will be included in the education materials shared with primary schools, and youth groups across Merseyside.
Activity 2: Deciding the theme of the play
Based on discussions from activity 1 the group began to consider the theme for the play which had to keep within the topic of antibiotic resistance. The group expressed the importance of keeping the performance simple and fun so that young people especially primary school aged children would be able to understand the storyline and science embedded into the script. Of course there had to be ‘super hero’ character’s as well as ‘villains’ which fits nicely into the theme of good and bad bacteria, which some young members of the group hadn’t considered.
Armed with some great ideas, the play was born and rehearsals began in earnest.
So what’s next?
Our young people have been busy. Art workshops, creation of child-friendly education materials about antibiotics, and a video recording of the play are just some activities they have been involved in.
More exciting news is that the first live performance is taking place on the 18th May, in the Institute in the Park at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. The performance, followed by fun and games is for children, young people, families and healthcare professionals. This will be followed by a live performance for primary schools in the Liverpool area. The video recording of the play and education materials/resources will be made available to all schools and youth groups in Merseyside. Watch out for the next blog coming soon.
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