Could a video game stamp out vaping? Western Sydney students share ideas at first Health Hackathon

Students from western Sydney recently spent two days immersed in a ‘Health Hackathon’ event at Westmead Hospital, developing campaigns to address key health issues and presenting these ideas to industry leaders.

Western Sydney Local Health District’s (WSLHD) Prevention Education and Research Unit (PERU), in collaboration with the Regional Industry Education Partnerships (RIEP) program, the NSW Department of Education, and the NSW Ministry of Health, co-hosted the Health Hackathon at Westmead Hospital.

The first joint project between NSW Health and Education departments, the event was innovative way to engage western Sydney’s young people in career opportunities, pathways, skill building while focusing on improving health.

“We have engaged students to be able to come up with a campaign that addresses a health issue that matters to them in their school community.”

Kym Rizzo Liu, Project Manager Prevention Education Research Unit (PERU)

“This is an example of how, when kids lead things by themselves, they can come up with amazing ideas.

“They feel empowered and then really want to make a difference in our schools.”

Over two dozen students participated in the event, coming to Westmead Hospital from four local high schools, including Colyton, Erskine Park, Model Farms, and Windsor High Schools.

Students presented a range of ideas, such as a Fortnite based game which highlighted the negative effects vaping has on the character’s health and performance, as well as an interactive anime game, aimed at highlighting mental health struggles.

The winners, a team from Model Farms High School, took inspiration from trending TikToks, creating a video with an anti-vape message, that showed a bird’s-eye view of students dancing, walking away when one of them started to smoke a vape.

“As students, we know what other students want to know,” one Model Farms High School student, and member of the winning team, said.

You can read more about the event here.