CHILDREN are getting their heads together to come up with schemes to get their borough feeling happier and healthier after being shocked by the health issues faced in the area.

Furness Education and Skills Partnership and the NHS are working in collaboration to try to address alarming health problems in Barrow through new and innovative ideas from pupils.

Nine and 10-year-olds from six Barrow primary schools may hold the key to improving the outlook of health for their communities.

The Happy and Healthy Lifestyle Project - #iWill Make A Difference is seeing mini researchers from each of the schools put their ideas forward.

The Year Five youngsters were left shocked by hearing about matters such as people in Barrow borough having lower life expectancy than the England average, and the big deprivation gaps in their communities.

The year-long social action project was launched with a big interactive event held at Furness College to introduce children to the key areas of diet, exercise, well being and issues with smoking, alcohol and drug misuse.

Now four children from each of the six schools have been selected as researchers for the important project.

Dara Kitchin, nine, of St Pius X Catholic Primary School, said: "I'm very excited to be a mini researcher.

"I want to help Barrow get happier and healthier. I was very shocked to hear about the health figures. I didn't like it that lots of people have been smoking and drinking too much. Having one cigarette a day can make you lose 10 minutes of your life.

"We are going to come up with some good ideas. Kids can do a lot to help."

Henry Burns, 10, of Chetwynde School, said: "This is an important project for the young people to be part of. We need to teach people about health when they are young like us.

"I suggested a pedometer challenge and that is how I got involved in being a mini researcher. I'm excited about the role.

"I was shocked by the different statistics about health and want to help make Barrow happier and healthier."

Brian Wood, of FESP, said: "This is very much about their ideas, not us.

"This is about young people making a difference in their communities. They will spread the message among their classmates, their families and their communities."

Two of the health professionals working on the project are Dr Lauren Dixon, a GP at Bridgegate Medical Centre, and the children and families lead for Furness with Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group, and Dr Sara Arun, a GP at Norwood Medical Centre and a cardiology specialist for the Furness area as part of CCCG.

Dr Dixon said: "The children have the chance to make a real difference. Let's hope they can because we have been trying for a long time. It is time to look to see what else we can do and in partnership.

"We really want them to lead this. We will support them, but we want them to tell us their ideas.

"They were very shocked by the statistics and that, according to the data, if you live in Barrow you are not going to live for as long. That has had a massive impact with them.

"We know in Furness there is a growing problem for children and young people with mental health problems. It is important that we all work together to improve that. It is going to be a community project."

Dr Anun said: "We wanted to get the different schools together and do something different.

"This is bringing health and education together.

"We hope the children will have some very good ideas and can spread the messages.

"The plan is working with Year Five each year and then these messages stay with the young people into secondary school and beyond.

"We hope they will inspire pupils, parents and their communities."

The schools in this project are Greengate Junior School, Ormsgill Primary School, South Walney Junior School, St Pius X Catholic Primary School, Victoria Academy and Chetwynde School.