Western Cape on Wellness (WoW!): School Peer-to-Peer Leadership and Citizen Science to Change the School Wellness Environment

Project Description:

The Western Cape on Wellness (WoW!) initiative is a transversal deliverable of the Western Cape Provincial government.  WoW! provides a wellness-promoting partnership platform, the aim of which is to strengthen supported self-management in order to prevent, reduce, and better control NCDs by addressing their key individual behavioural and social/structural determinants.  WoW! uses a health champion approach, and can be implemented in worksites, communities, primary health care settings, and schools.  Up until now, WoW! has largely focused on adults and senior adults.  The emphasis in schools will be on peer-to-peer leadership and in particular, engaging learners in identifying barriers to healthy eating and physical activity in their school and community environments, and training in advocacy to address these barriers.  This will be done in conjunction with the school’s Representative Councils of Learners and the Teacher Liaison Officers in school settings.  It is well-aligned with a programme called Y-Caps, which involves school-based projects which are evaluated by the school authorities.  Furthermore, it is aligned with the life-orientation curriculum of high-school learners.  This will be combined with the development of a manual on peer-to-peer leadership for promoting wellness and for implementing citizen science.


  • UCT Research Centre for Health through Physical Activity, Lifestyle, and Sport
  • Dr. Christaan Young and Dr. Sharhidd Taliep, and Ms. Teneille Venter, Department of Sports Management, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town


For the pilot programme, we will be recruiting the elected classroom representatives to the Representative Council of Learners in 4 high schools each, from two districts.  This will likely involve at least 18 students per school, for grades 8-10, and 4 schools per district for two districts.

Research Question:

The primary research question is whether or not it is possible to recruit and train elected classroom representatives to gather evidence on behalf of their peers, and to identify aspects of the school environment that may be able to be changed, to improve access to affordable healthy food and/or opportunities for physical activity.

Our Voice Impact

"This experience has changed my life.  I see inadequacies everywhere I go as it relates to pedestrian access and safety.  I even stop [at] construction sites to remind them to be considerate of the handicapped in our community.  Thank you all so much for this awareness and empowerment to require change."

~ Pam Jiner, GirlTrek Advocacy Leader, Denver CO