An important part of the BREATH Public Engagement mission is outreach to schools within the Partner regions. This involves explaining lung health and disease in the context of biomedical science, and increasing awareness of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) – including presentations on smoking as a (preventable) major risk factor.
School outreach extends across all three partners. Below is an example of the ongoing BREATH drive in Dumfries & Galloway.
University of the West of Scotland (UWS) staff and PhD students have been visiting schools in Dumfries & Galloway to raise awareness amongst both secondary and primary children of COPD), a deadly lung disorder which is particularly prevalent in the area.
The progressive lung condition is the world’s third biggest killer and UWS academics have been educating children in more than twenty* local schools (>3,000 pupils) on the current research underway to improve diagnosis, treatment and management of the disease, as well as teaching them about general lung health.
Scotland and Ireland have some of the highest rates of COPD in the world. UWS academics are amongst a consortium of organisations – including Queen’s University Belfast and Dundalk Institute of Technology – involved in a pioneering cross-border research project granted €7.7 million EU Interreg VA funding by the Special EU Programmes Body to explore the disease. The project, called ‘BREATH’ (Border and Regions Airways Training Hub) aims to better understand and alleviate the impact of COPD.
Starting September 2018, UWS BREATH experts have educated young people in Dumfries & Galloway about lung physiology in a cluster of school events organised with help by Ms Deborah Trotter (Stranraer Academy) and Ms Karen Creighton (RAiSE). This involved building their own simple lung model and conducting a range of experiments to assess lung function. The team will also discuss COPD risk factors with the pupils, which include smoking and air pollution.
The aim is for BREATH academics to share their skills with the next generation of young scientists and inspire them to help in the work to find new and better treatments for COPD.
Professor John Lockhart at University of the West of Scotland, said: “COPD is not only the third biggest killer in the world, but also in Scotland, lung disease has recently overtaking cardiovascular disease for the first time. The UWS BREATH academics have been touring schools in Dumfries & Galloway to raise awareness of COPD, a disease which is particularly prevalent in the area.
“We want children to engage with us on our research journey, and have been teaching them about the scientific skills needed for researching the deadly disease while at the same time improving their understanding of lung health and wellbeing.
“We have had some fantastic visits and we’ve received a wonderfully enthusiastic response from pupils and teachers alike. We hope to have inspired the next generation of young scientists to take on the baton one day, and work to find better treatments to improve the quality of life of those affected by COPD.”
* The local schools involved in the initiative are as follows (Click schools in bold for those with Blogs on BREATH visit):
- Stranraer Academy
- Kirkcolm Primary School
- Glenluce Primary School
- Castle Kennedy Primary School
- Leswalt Primary School
- Sheuchan Primary School (Issue 5; Strathclyde = UWS!)
- Rephad Primary School
- Belmont Primary School
- Portpatrick Primary School
- Gatehouse-of-Fleet Primary School
- Sandhead Primary School
- Borgue Primary School
- Drummore Primary School
- St Joseph’s College School
- Penninghame Primary School
- St Ninian’s Primary School
- Kirkcudbright Primary School
- Kirkcowan Primary School
- Wigtown Primary School
- Kirkinner Primary School
Regional Schools Engagement Map
Public engagement drive featured in:
- National/Local newspapers: Galloway News; Free Press; Scotsman
- YOUR EU! Spring 2019
- See video below of our session at Penninghame Primary, Galloway