By Liverpool YPAG,
Setting up a Science Club in a Youth Centre
For many years the patient and public involvement team (Jenny and Sammy) at the National Institute for Health and Social Care (NIHR) Alder Hey Clinical Research Facility had plans to work in the community to inspire children and young people about science, medicine, art, research, and technologies that shape their lives. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to that.
So finally, when the world is slowly but surely recovering from the pandemic and life is getting back to normal, we finally set up a Science Club in a Youth Centre in Liverpool. Our aim is to work in partnership with children and young people who are considered hard-to-reach. We want to raise awareness, educate, and inspire children and young people about the work we do within the Alder Hey Clinical Research Facility, and our partner organisations (University of Liverpool, NIHR Children and Young People MedTech Co-Operative, etc). More importantly, we want the sessions to show children and young people the possibilities that are open to them, and inspire, encourage, guide them to achieve their aspirations and foster ambitions of becoming our future scientists, researchers, doctors, nurses, and designers.
Many of the children and young people at the Centre may not have opportunities readily offered to them. We want to share our knowledge, connections, and enthusiasm to help as much as we can to readdress the balance.
The club is a 12-month pilot project and will meet monthly on Wednesday evenings after school and is open to children and young people between the ages of 8-14 years. Researchers will be invited to attend the club and undertake ‘hands on’ interactive activities that the children and young people can get involved in and ask questions about. The activities will be planned in partnership with children and young people, for example, on the evaluation sheets they are asked what they would like to learn more about. We will plan our next sessions to accommodate their interests.
Meet the team
Jenny, Sammy, and Gaby (from the Paediatric Medicines Research Unit, a collaboration between Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool Women’s NHS Foundation Trust, Edge Hill University, Liverpool John Moore’s University, the University of Central Lancashire and the University of Liverpool) run the group.
Our first session
The first session of the Science Club took place on the 1st of March 2023. Approximately 15 children and young people joined the session, popping in and out of the session as much as they wanted to.
The session focused on developing medicines for children. We wanted the young people to gain an understanding of how medicines are made and the different types of research that is carried out to help make medicines better for children and young people to take.
Various art activities took place alongside a hands-on activity that required the use of plastic cups, oral syringes, rubber gloves, water, blackcurrant cordial and a plastic box (handmade by Gaby) to resemble an isolator used in labs. The young people loved dressing up in white coats and the enthusiasm in the centre was infectious! They had a lot to say about their own experiences of taking medicines and being in hospital.
They also designed their own medicines, and the winner received a prize.
Other examples of medicines.
The feedback from the session was really positive and the young people enjoyed the activities. Some want to learn more about side-effects of medicines, and how medicines can be delivered safely. The team are now in the process of planning the next session around these topics.
If you would like to know more about how we set up the club please email email@example.com – watch this space for regular news updates about the club.