When healthy students become the teachers

Doonside High School students discuss healthy living with SALSA’s Smita Shah (far left).

Student leaders are teaching their younger peers about healthy living as part of the multi-award winning Students As Lifestyle Activists (SALSA) program.

The SALSA program provides four lessons at local high schools about food choices, physical activity and healthy lifestyle.

The lessons are now part of the Personal Development, Health and Physical Education (PDHPE) curriculum at several western Sydney schools.

These lessons are hosted by year 10 students in conjunction with teachers.

The peer-educational program is in it’s first year at Doonside Technology High School, with year 10 students advocating for easy, healthier lifestyle changes and particularly helping year 8 students to get moving and eat well.

WSLHD Primary Health Care Education and Research Unit director, Associate Professor Smita Shah, said students respond better to health messages from their peers rather than adults or health professionals.

“It was exciting to see how the students from Doonside Technology High School developed school action plans for healthy eating and being more active in their school environment,” Smita said.

“Everyone leads busy lifestyles so we want students to adapt to a healthier alternative in an easy, simple fashion.

“Good nutrition is obtained from consuming healthy fresh foods which are easy to prepare and low cost.”

Smita, who is the SALSA co-founder, said the students were keen to sample the healthy, delicious and colourful treats recommended in the program.

For further information about the SALSA program, click here.