Frankston City Council Youth Services, Peninsula Health and Frankston Primary School students joined forces this spring to discourage people from smoking at Frankston Hospital’s main entrance.
It is hoped the Smoke Free PA System Project, initiated by Peninsula Health’s Health Promotion team, will also reduce the exposure to second-hand smoke for service users, visitors and staff.
The project was inspired by an innovative approach being taken by a hospital in the UK, where audio messages recorded by children were used to deter people from smoking outside the hospital.
As part of the pilot project, Frankston City Council Youth Services ran workshops with a group of students from Frankston Primary School.
This culminated in students writing and recording their own messages about smoking, and the impact it has on the health of the smoker, people around them and the environment.
Frankston City Council Senior Youth Workers Jane Thomson and Teneille King worked with the students throughout the process.
Ms Thompson said the approach was neutral which allowed students to develop messages from their personal thoughts and opinions.
“The young people embraced the education around the topic,” she said.
“Their enthusiasm and willingness to try something new in an unfamiliar environment was fantastic.”
Ms King said she was thrilled that the project provided a chance to build rapport with local students.
“They are now familiar with Frankston City Council Youth Services, all while creating positive change within their local community.”
The recorded messages were played at different intervals on the PA system outside Frankston Hospital’s main entrance in October and November.
A team of researchers, led by Peninsula Health Anaesthetist, Dr Ashley Webb, monitored the footage and evaluated the project’s impact. This was done in conjunction with Peninsula Health’s Health Promotion team and Smoke Free Working Group.
“We found there was a significant reduction in the number of people smoking outside the hospital when the announcements were played,” Dr Webb said.
“There were 4.4 cigarettes smoked per hour during non-broadcast periods, falling to 3.6 an hour when the recordings were played five minutes apart, and 1.7 an hour when the announcements were played three minutes apart.”
Dr Webb said messages from the Frankston Primary School students were powerful and effective in discouraging smoking outside the hospital.
“We plan to continue this initiative and are investigating expanding it to other Peninsula Health sites.”
Frankston City Council Mayor Sandra Mayer commended everyone involved in The Smoke Free PA System Project.
“The findings are quite remarkable and it is a reflection of the young people’s work and emotive input which enabled these outcomes,” the Mayor said.
A celebration was held on December 11 at George Pentland Gardens where Peninsula Health recognised the accomplishments of those who took part in the project.