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About LifeLab (old)

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Change the beginning and you change the whole story

– this phrase captures our approach; children make up a third of the UK population. Their health and wellbeing are top priorities for the UK government, but our young people are increasingly exposed to two childhood epidemics – obesity and mental distress, compounded by the unprecedented COVID-19 situation.

LifeLab is a unique educational programme created by the University of Southampton in collaboration with the NIHR Southampton Biomedical Research Centre and University Hospital Southampton (UHS) with a mission to co-create with young people an environment to allow their voices to be heard, advocate for change and enable them to flourish, building resilience for a complex and changing world. Our programmes are designed to enable young people to engage with the science behind health messages and be empowered to take ownership of their own choices.

A purpose-built education facility in UHS with state-of-the-art equipment and a dedicated team of educators, LifeLab is the only facility of its kind tackling these current health crises faced by our children. The innovative pedagogical methods ensure the evidence-based programme is enriching, engaging, and absorbing, establishing healthy life choices as lifelong habits. The LifeLab programme ‘Me, My Health and My Children’s Health’ is a series of stimulating lessons integrated into the secondary science curriculum. The lessons focus on both COVID-19 and on the non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that are increasingly common in our society today, including heart, lung and liver disease, stroke, and some forms of cancer. The programme introduces students to these issues and ways of making lifestyle choices for themselves to reduce the underlying risk factors. Central to this is the increasing scientific evidence, much of it spearheaded by research at Southampton, that a healthy lifestyle at an early age can have profound consequences on our long-term health, and on the health of our future children – a message that we need to get across to teenagers before they have children of their own.

The COVID-19 Pandemic

In March 2020, when our face-to-face work was halted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we felt that there was an important need to apply our ‘science for health literacy’ approach to include a wider focus on health, encompassing communicable diseases, and in particular, COVID-19. This provided an opportunity to develop modules of work to address the unique challenges children and young people are living through. The intention of these modules is to enable students to consider their own health in a wider context, both from personal experience and using an evidence-based approach, to understand the impact that their decisions and behaviours can have on themselves personally, their families, and their wider communities.

The Hampshire and Isle of Wight Saliva Testing Programme

Since August 2020, the LifeLab Education team have been supporting the delivery of the Southampton Saliva Testing Programme (September – November 2020) and the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Saliva Testing Programme. A series of primary and secondary school lessons have been created to engage with school students from Year R - Year 11. As experienced educators, it was understood that the lessons could not simply be information-giving, but had to involve interactive activities, allowing space for discussion to allay concerns and address misconceptions.

Last modified: Friday, 1 April 2022, 4:21 PM