For the past year we have been working closely with a multi-disciplinary health team made up or academics, researchers, health service deliverers and health promotion experts from the Inner West of Sydney, to co-design a program encouraging an active and healthy lifestyle for young people with young people.
And now, after presenting the outcome of the project to our team of health professionals in early November, we can share the work so that others might be able to build on the knowledge we’ve created with them.
The report is a powerful tool for change for 13-17 year olds establishing a healthy and active lifestyle. Real change will be possible in the SLHD and the next phase will involve other groups like schools and Councils to implement.
The team is focused on delivering services within what is known as the Sydney Local Health District – a geographic area that stretches from Lakemba and Belmore in the West to Newtown, Marrickville and Glebe near the city and out to Canada Bay on the inner harbour.
Our co-design process moved through all of the normal phases of intent, research, field work and collaborative prototyping and solution development. Young people are SO busy that at one stage we wondered if there would be a program that would fit into their hectic lifestyles at all!
As well as a clear and detailed position on what might constitute an integrated program(s) we also learnt some amazing things about young people who are 13-17 now:
  • The desire to be activists is strong in this group. They understand that there are significant structural reasons why their lifestyles might not be as healthy and active as they should be and they are willing to try and change that.
  • They are experts at multi-modal text analysis. They switch between channels, formats, products and platforms and curate meaning from a range of inputs that many adults can’t even comprehend.
  • They do want to be active – but in many cases their age group is effectively ‘locked out’ of public spaces – if you’re under 12 or over 18 you have a lot more options.
  • They understand WHY they need to be healthy and active, they just need help with why.

During our report presentation and debrief, the team described the co-design process as ‘delightful’ ‘incredible’ and ‘it gave us freedom in a refreshing, liberating, motivating way’ We found that too and are so happy to share these results!

As always, our design projects are collaborative efforts and the full list of collaborators are in the report, but we’d like to call out some particular peers.

  • Renee Morton from the SLHD and Professor Chris Rissel from the Office of Preventative Health who were instrumental in championing and investing in a co-design approach. They were wonderful Project Sponsors and put together a great team for us.
  • We’ve wanted to work on a project with Natalie Rowland from Red Rollers for some time, so it was great to be able to do that with this one. Nat provided outstanding insight and support into the approach we might take with the young people.
  • Youthblock is an outstanding service based in Redfern and Nigel and the team there went above and beyond to support us on the project.

And finally, of course, the 40+ young people who spent time designing with us through interviews, observation and workshops – a diverse and representative group who were motivated to make a difference – we hope we gave your ‘voice’ AGENCY!