Local children enjoyed a day of hands-on messy but educational fun as part of the Kent Schools Project, a pilot project designed to inspire future allied health professionals.

The project brings together NHS Kent and Medway Allied Health Professional Faculty, the Golden Thread Alliance and Canterbury Christ Church University.

At the launch day, held at the university’s Old Sessions House, the Year 5 children, all aged nine or 10, had to delve their hands into jelly to find plastic organs, balance as part of physio exercise and practice their suturing skills on vegan bacon.

The aim of the day was to give the children experience what it’s like to work as an allied health professional.

Nine-year-old Raphael attends Oakfield Primary in Dartford. He said: “I found the heart in jelly and it felt weird. I want to work in medicine, so I was really looking forward to today.”

Classmate Chelsey, 10, also enjoyed the hands-on learning. She said: “This experience might help me decide on a future career. Stitching up the bacon was strange but a good experience.”

Karen Amber, NHS Kent and Medway’s Allied Health Professional Faculty Lead, said: “The Kent Schools Project is a pilot project designed to inspire primary school children to think of future careers in the allied health professions.

“There are 14 AHP roles and we want to highlight these jobs to younger children, who often think ‘doctor’ or ‘nurse’ when they think of jobs in healthcare.

“As part of the project, we are producing a workbook which other schools across the county will be able to use as part of the national curriculum.”

There are nine schools within the Golden Thread Alliance. CEO Garry Ratcliffe explains why he was keen to involve four of the schools.

He said: “It’s important to raise the aspirations of children from a young age, especially those from deprived areas and who might not have the knowledge or opportunities to find out about the range of careers available in healthcare and the local courses and apprenticeships open to them once they leave school.”

Karen Amber showing how to incubate a patient to the children.
Karen Amber showing what an Operating Department Practitioner does.

Dr Mark Gradwell, Senior Lecturer in Diagnostic Radiography at Canterbury Christ Church University, said: “We’re delighted to work in partnership with the NHS Kent and Medway Allied Health Professions Faculty and schools from the Golden Thread Alliance to inspire children to think of allied and public health professions as potential future careers.

“The allied and public health professions work at the heart of our hospitals and communities and can make such a difference to people’s lives.

“Canterbury Christ Church University offers courses and opportunities within the School of Allied and Public Health Professions for students, and we support them as they make their way into amazing new careers.”