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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. 1 Primary Health Care Education and Research Unit, Western Sydney Local Health District, Westmead, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2 Sydney Medical School, The University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  3. 3 Mount 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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Footnotes

  • Contributors SS and K-SL are founders of the SALSA programme. SS is the director of the SALSA programme and has been since its inception. SS contributed to this editorial equally with BCF and VAS. IM and K-SL revised and edited the editorial after programme implementation.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Correction notice This paper has been amended since it was published Online First. Owing to a scripting error, some of the publisher names in the references were replaced with ‘BMJ Publishing Group’. This only affected the full text version, not the PDF. We have since corrected these errors and the correct publishers have been inserted into the references.

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