Youth health message cuts through at Hackathon
Students from four western Sydney high schools explored issues impacting teenagers such as vaping and alcohol abuse at the first Health Hackathon.
30 November 2023
A Tik Tok video encouraging students not to vape was the winning campaign at the first Health Hackathon involving four high schools in Sydney’s west.
The two-day Hackathon involved teams of students from Colyton, Model Farms, Windsor and Erskine Park high schools developing campaigns to address health issues faced by young people in their communities, such as vaping, obesity and alcohol abuse.
Director, Educational Leadership for the Eastern Creek Network, Jason Miezis, said the initiative was coordinated by the Western Sydney Local Health District’s Prevention Education and Research Unit (PERU) and the Regional Industry Education Partnerships program, in partnership with the NSW Department of Education and NSW Health.
“The campaigns were student-led, so it’s the students themselves trying to shift mindsets,” Mr Miezis said.
“The winning campaign was a Tik Tok video by students at Model Farms High School with the message it’s not fun to vape. It was short and snappy and it’s on a platform that students engage with all the time.
“We know students in our schools are aware of these health issues and what the experts are saying, but when the message is coming from your peers, it can be that much more powerful.”
Professor Smita Shah, Director of PERU, said the Hackathon was designed to inspire students, give them a voice, and encourage them to think about the impact they can have on their own health, as well as that of their family and friends.
“It’s one way to engage high school students to address and develop solutions for positive health outcomes,” Professor Shah said.
Professor Shah said the Hackathon was a crucial step in preparing young minds to tackle the health challenges of the future.
Western Sydney is one of the state’s fastest-growing regions and is expected to be home to more than six million people by 2041.