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First primary school in Wales takes part in awareness-raising bowel cancer project

Year 6 pupils at Ysgol Pen Rhos, Llanelli, are helping to raise awareness of bowel cancer and bowel cancer screening in their community as part of a collaboration between Hywel Dda University Health Board (UHB), Public Health Wales and the Moondance Cancer Initiative.

The Moondance Cancer Initiative aims to significantly improve cancer survival in Wales by not only working in clinical setting but also in our communities. Their schools project hopes to influence long-term behaviour change within younger generations by educating them about cancer, cancer treatment, and the connection to healthy behaviours.

Ysgol Pen Rhos are the first primary school in Wales to welcome the project into their classrooms. The pupils were joined by Colorectal Consultant, Mr Pawan Dhruva Rao, with Dr Danielle Cunningham and Dr Johnsingh Sitther, together with Peyton Jones from Bowel Screening Wales and Mrs Johnson, a patient with lived experience of bowel cancer.

To begin the day, Mr Dhruva Rao introduced the pupils to cancer and its causes, followed by a lively and informative talk about what our bowels do for us, and what bowel cancer is. After a warm welcome, Mrs Johnson talked very powerfully and emotively about her own bowel cancer journey.

During the interactive sessions, the pupils enthusiastically practised procedures using the medical laparoscopic skills boxes and explored stoma kits.

Mr Dhruva Rao, Colorectal Consultant at Hywel Dda UHB, said: “I’ve loved spending time with the pupils today. Talking about bowels and the importance of bowel screening can’t be underestimated. What the children have learned will save lives. I couldn’t be prouder of them and how they engaged with the session and the project. “

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Dr Joe Cudd, Head Teacher, Ysgol Pen Rhos, said: “We jumped at the opportunity to work with the Moondance Cancer Initiative, Public Health Wales, Hywel Dda University Health Board and Mrs Johnson.

“The Curriculum for Wales provides us with opportunity for authentic and relevant learning experiences. This was an outstanding opportunity for the pupils to experience the expertise of the health board in their classroom. We hope this will support the uptake of the bowel screening in our community too.”

Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer and the second biggest cancer killer in Wales. Every year more than 2,200 people across Wales are diagnosed with the disease and over 900 people die.

The children also thoroughly enjoyed the interactive session about dipping fake stool into dummy test kits which enabled the pupils to explore and understand how the bowel screening process works.

Peyton Jones, Quality and Service Improvement Manager, Bowel Screening Wales, said: “Bowel cancer is treatable and curable, especially if it is diagnosed early. Nearly everyone survives bowel cancer if diagnosed at the earliest stage.

“That is why we’re especially excited by the session with the Year 6 pupils from Ysgol Pen Rhos, as they now have important knowledge that will help them look out for their family and loved ones, and themselves too.”

Find out more:

Bowel Screening Wales: https://phw.nhs.wales/services-and-teams/screening/bowel-screening

Moondance Cancer Initiative’s bowel cancer programme: https://moondance-cancer.wales/projects/bowel-cancer-programme

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