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The Students As LifeStyle Activists (SALSA) program
  1. Smita Shah1,2,
  2. Bridget C Foley1,2,
  3. Inara Molinari1,
  4. Kean-Seng Lim3,
  5. Vanessa A Shrewsbury1,2
  1. 1Primary Health Care Education and Research Unit, Western Sydney Local Health District, Westmead, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  3. 3Mount Druitt Medical Practitioners Association, Mount Druitt, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Smita Shah, Primary Health Care Education and Research Unit (PERU) Research and Education Network (REN), Western Sydney Local Health District, Westmead NSW 2145, Australia; Smita.Shah{at}health.nsw.gov.au

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Background

Adolescence is a critical time for developing healthy lifestyle behaviours. It is a period where young people assume a greater responsibility for their physical activity and eating habits, which often persist into adulthood.1 Schools are an ideal setting for promoting health, as most adolescents attend school and can be easily reached. There is also strong evidence demonstrating that school-based programmes can increase physical activity and improve dietary habits of students.2 3

The Students As LifeStyle Activists (SALSA) programme uses a peer educational model, driven by students, to promote physical activity and healthy eating in a supportive school environment.4 Our premise is that students not only learn through teaching their peers, but they also serve as powerful motivators and role models for others.5 Adolescents can also be effective ‘change agents’ within their family and the wider school community.

Key features of the programme

The SALSA programme is underpinned by social cognitive theory and the empowerment education approach and aligns with the WHO’s health promoting schools framework.4 6

Our unique peer education model involving university and high school students as learners and educators is demonstrated in this brief animation: http://tinyurl.com/SALSAprogram-model. In summary, volunteer university students from health/education faculties, who …

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