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Workshops launched for teenagers

Innovative "Staying Positive" workshops are being launched throughout the country to give 12-18 year olds with long-term health conditions the support they need.

Over the last 40 years there has been a significant rise in the number of young people with chronic illnesses such as asthma and diabetes, and the health of this group has improved the least of any age group during this time.

The Staying Positive workshops have been introduced to ensure that these teenagers have the skills to deal with their conditions in addition to the common issues that face young people in the UK.

An external evaluation, conducted in autumn 2007, revealed that Staying Positive workshops increase young people's skills, confidence and ability to manage their health condition.

Younger teens benefit from discussing issues such as sibling relationships, PE at school and talking to teachers, whereas older teens are interested in how going to university, leaving home, boyfriends and girlfriends, sex and drinking alcohol will affect them.

Cathy McMahon, project manager for the Staying Positive programme, says, "The teenage years are a crucial time for developing good self-management skills and we know that young people reject courses designed for adults.

"This programme has been developed in consultation with young people. They have told us what is important to them, and the workshops have been developed around these topics.  What's more, training people between the ages of 14 and 23 who are living with long-term health conditions as facilitators means that our course leaders can relate to the participants on every level."

Staying Positive is the first programme designed specifically to support this age group. The aim is to help participants feel less isolated, help them develop skills and techniques to manage their illness, learn from others talk about their problems and develop solutions.

To find out more about the Staying Positive programme, go to the website