Bowel cancer awareness module for Pontypridd secondary schools

Written by on 22nd October 2021

Year 7 pupils in six secondary schools across Pontypridd and Llantrisant will complete a learning programme aiming to raise awareness of bowel cancer – developed through Pontypridd High School’s work with the Moondance Cancer Initiative.

Thanks to the partnership, which also includes the Council and Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, the programme will be taught to all Year 7 pupils in the autumn term of the 2021/22 academic year, starting when pupils return to school following the October half term.

Schools taking part include Bryncelynnog Comprehensive School, Cardinal Newman RC Comprehensive School, Hawthorn High School, Pontypridd High School, Y Pant Comprehensive School and Ysgol Garth Olwg.

Latest data from Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board shows that Rhondda Cynon Taf has the sixth-highest rate of colorectal cancer across the 22 Local Authorities in Wales – with more than half of cases (53%) diagnosed at a late stage. Crucially, bowel cancer is treatable and curable if found early. People between the ages of 58 and 74 are invited to complete a bowel cancer screening home test kit every two years.

Pontypridd High School, working with the Moondance Cancer Initiative and partner secondary schools, has produced different learning resources and experiences for Year 7 pupils. This includes understanding screening, how to use a test kit and developing materials to engage parents, carers and the wider community – promoting key messages around prevention, screening and early symptoms.

Following the successful pilot carried out in 2019/20, Pontypridd High has worked closely with the Health Board and this has supported the growth of the project to the wider Pontypridd community and other schools in the local area. Alongside five additional local secondary schools, a wider group of partners have also joined the programme – including local GPs, hospital consultants, voluntary council representatives, bowel screening services and local public health specialists.

Find out about the Moondance Cancer Initiative’s Bowel Cancer Programme here.

Councillor Joy Rosser, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Inclusion Services, said: “I’m very proud of the valuable work undertaken by staff and pupils at Pontypridd High School and their work in partnership with other secondary schools, to raise awareness of bowel cancer symptoms in partnership with the Moondance Cancer Initiative. It is fantastic news that, as a result of this work, their innovative module is being formally rolled out across the wider Pontypridd area from this month.

“The module aims to give young people an understanding of the behaviours that can increase the likelihood of developing bowel cancer, as well as what to look out for as early signs. The module has a fully-developed curriculum package with supporting materials, for delivery across our schools.

“On top of the positive work inside the classroom, an important part of the module is engagement and awareness-raising within the wider community. Information will be sent home to parents and carers from our schools, while pupils will also be encouraged to take part in activities with their families, including cooking healthy meals and being physically active. All of this will help people young and old to make better, more informed lifestyle choices.

“I’d like to say a big well done and thank you to everyone who has made this module possible, particularly the staff and pupils at Pontypridd High School and the additional five schools in the local area who have agreed to take part.”

Professor Kelechi Nnoaham, Director of Public Health, Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board, added “This is an excellent example of partnership working across education, health and the wider community.  Young people learning about health and keeping well through school and with their families is a great way of raising awareness and preventing future ill health in our communities.”

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