ALPHA gets involved in the HBSC study

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Luke Brace, Shelby Jones, Oliver Sanders and Sophie Jones, members of DECIPHer’s advisory group, ALPHA, tell us about their recent trip to St. Andrews to represent young people from Wales at the 30th anniversary meeting of the HBSC Study.

We went toSt. Andrews in Scotland for the HBSC (Health Behaviour in School-aged Children) conference and met lots of other young people from England, Ireland, Scotland and Canada.  We were there to assist in the conference by showing the adult delegates how young people are needed to advise on their study.

We thought that young people’s three top priorities were:
  • Mental health and school pressure;

  • Youth and adult relationships;

  • Body image and weight loss


Oliver ran a discussion session with the adult delegates about family communication, which is a topic in the study.  We thought that the study should cover questions on communication with other adults rather than just mums and dads.  Some of the other people we think could be included were older siblings, grandparents and religious figures.

ALPHA members arrive at St. Andrews University. L-R: Oliver Sanders, Sophie Jones, Shelby Jones and Luke Brace, and Involving Young People Officer Hayley Reed.

The other three of us (Luke, Shelby and Sophie) were on the media team, which involved video recording the conference, taking pictures, and interviewing Tam Baillie (the Scottish Commissioner for Children and Young People) and other adult delegates.  Tam Baillie told us about the seven golden rules to engaging young people in Scotland.


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            Luke, Shelby and Sophie interview Tam Baillie, the Scottish Commissioner for Children and Young People.

A film has now been made using some of our footage and featuring us and the other young people who attended the conference; you can see it here:


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Our session with the adults was on Thursday 20 June so we thought we should ask our questions about youth engagement before and after this session to find out if we changed adult delegates’ perspectives on youth engagement. Lots of the adults said they realised that we were really confident and that they want to start to get young people involved more, internationally and in the national surveys.  One delegate said he feels silly that we do so much research about young people but often don’t include them in the research.

Apart from all the work, we had some free time, in which we played rounders and went to a Ceilidh (Scottish traditional dance event). Some of us enjoyed the three course meal, which included haggis, although others weren’t that into it. We liked St. Andrews University and thought the Fairmont Hotel where we had dinner was huge and really nice.  Overall, this quote from Luke Brace sums up the weekend: “not gonna lie, had a cracking time in Scotland!” so thanks to Chris Roberts and the Welsh Government for asking ALPHA to be involved.


Luke Brace (20), Shelby Jones (18), Oliver Sanders (16), and Sophie Jones (16) are members ofALPHA (Advice Leading to Public Health Advancement,) DECIPHer’s advisory group of young people. For more information about ALPHA, see the ALPHA pages on the DECIPHer website, follow @ALPHA_DECIPHer on Twitter or contact Hayley Reed.

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