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Engage Awards: Engaging with Young People

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Don't Smile by Judith Johnson

In her series of regular blogs about our Engage Awards, Laura Steele is looking at the nominees in each of the six categories. In this final edition, she turns her attention to the finalists who battled it out in the Engaging With Young People category.

Academia can be particularly rewarding when researchers work in partnership with younger people in order to find a way to make a real difference in day-to-day life. Our finalists in the Engaging With Young People category showed just how much can be achieved when young people’s contributions can be harnessed.

Our finalists in this category came from universities in Leeds, Glasgow and the Wales Observatory on the Human Rights of Children and Young people at the University of Swansea.

Developing Interventions to Raise Rabies Awareness in Rural African Communities

In Glasgow, Dr Tiziana Lembo created a project to raise awareness of rabies in rural Tanzania, working with young people in remote areas of the country to get the message out that rabies – which kills 60,000 people a year worldwide – is preventable.

Rabies is primarily transferred to humans from infected animals – usually domestic dogs - and Dr Lembo’s work focused on the fact that many people who are bitten by a rabid animal are unaware that immediately bathing the wound with water can increase the chances of the disease being successfully treated by up to 90%.

Schools and community groups are now helping to spread that message and the thriving motorcycle taxi businesses that operate in remote areas are also doing their bit by carrying the message on their bikes and clothing.

Lleisiau Bach yn Galw Allan - Little Voices Shouting Out

In Wales, researchers have helped hundreds of children to carry out research into how effective existing human rights for children are and to look at how the United Nations might review its current provision.

The project – called Little Voices Shouting Out – is still ongoing but reached a milestone last year when children involved in the work became the first to present their findings to the UN in Switzerland – and the recommendations they made are now being considered for implementation.

COHESION Pilot

Our winner in this category though was the University of Leeds, which worked with pupils at Batley High School for Girls to help tackle oral health issues among Yorkshire teenagers.

The county has the UK’s second worst record on children’s dental health – 45% of Yorkshire children suffer with rotten teeth – and the COHESION project took an innovative approach to the issue by working with the renowned Theatre of Debate to create a play which told a love story with dentistry at its heart.

Written by professional playwright, Judith Johnson, the play – called Don’t Smile - toured schools around Yorkshire to underline the importance of good oral health in teenage life. The partnership has already found critical acclaim and the research team led by Dr Sue Pavitt believe it will play a significant role in improving the smiles of Yorkshire teenagers in the future.

The category was one that attracted a wealth of brilliant projects. There could only be one winner, but the shortlisted and longlisted projects proved that research that engages with young people is thriving across the UK.

Our Engage Awards ceremony took place on 29th November 2016 in Bristol as part of the Engage Conference. Find out more about all our finalists and award winners.

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