WM Young Life

WM Young Life

WM Young Life was an event for 12-15 year olds showcasing the use of technology for better health.

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WM Young Life was the first event run under the banner of WM Life, a citizen engagement activity that aims to encourage greater participation by WM citizens in their own health and wellbeing. WM Young Life was a flagship event of the first Birmingham Technology Week held in October 2019 and was targeted at 12-15 year olds from schools with less affluent catchments across the City of Birmingham. 

Aims of WM Life 

There were three main aims for the day:

  1. To showcase how technology is being used in healthcare today including the use of artificial intelligence for diagnostics, virtual and augmented reality for visualisation and understanding of how the body works and using digital technology to deliver healthcare services remotely;
  2. To increase awareness of the steps we can all take to keep ourselves healthy both physically and mentally including some physical activity sessions, nutrition, making sense of health measurements, redesigning a portal for youth mental health, using social media to change behaviour, increasing personal resilience;
  3. To present the range of careers and opportunities that are available in healthcare and explore the routes to working in the healthcare system.     

Impact & Outcomes

Coming to a nice venue [like iCentrum] was a treat’ - WM Life reached 95 children from schools which tend to have less access to these type of events and targeted pupils at a time when they were making decisions about their future. Feedback from the teachers was very positive and interesting to note that, whilst there are a lot of events available for engineering careers, there is little on offer for health and life sciences.

"I will try my best to get good grades so I can get a career in software technology" - The 'pledge cards' provided by the children at the end of the day suggested that there was a new awareness of how technology is being used in healthcare and consideration of healthcare as a sector to work in using their interests in technology.

The technology and careers zones worked well as there was a lot to do and very hands on but with hindsight, we did not make enough of the health and wellbeing message. Whilst the physical activities were very popular, the connection to how to keep yourself healthy was not explicit and the noisiness of the venue was not conducive to the mental health sessions.  

The take-home messages for us were: 

  • 100 students is about the right number
  • October is a good time but could do up to spring half term/Easter (no later due to exams)   
  • Targeting disadvantaged schools is ambitious but definitely worth it  
  • Zone approach worked well
  • Careers zone was particularly good due to well-designed activities and engaging people
  • Smoothie bikes, pop-up sports very popular
  • Street food much better than brown bag lunch
  • Novelty things like the lanyards were well received
  • The link to Birmingham Tech Week should be retained.