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Thinking positive: The importance of resilience and listening to children and young people

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Purpose ‐ The purpose of this paper is to introduce the papers in this special issue and outline the essential features of the resilient school approach, and the child-focused approach of Noreen Wetton in her work in health education on understanding children and young people. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The paper shows distillation of the key principles used in the two complementary approaches. Findings ‐ The paper finds that resilience is a life event phenomenon that buffers against circumstances that normally overwhelm a person's coping capacity. It is linked with "coherence", or the ability to handle stress-related problems, "connectedness" and the ecological model encompassing a lifespan approach, within key settings that influence the individual's psychosocial development. Preventive population health practices that address the strengthening of human, social and organisational capital may well promise greater success in fostering population health, and particularly resilience, than traditional psycho-educational strategies. These become increasingly effective as the whole school approach is implemented as young people engage and participate fully in research and decision making ‐ key principles of Noreen Wetton's approach to health promotion. Practical implications ‐ The paper shows the need to focus on seeking the positive in any educational opportunity, to listen to young people and find out what they believe and feel, and to address health problems through attempting to strengthen people's capacity to cope rather than just shielding them from adversity. Originality/value ‐ The paper, in showing this is the first time these two strands have been brought together in this way, has a wide value widely across health education and health promotion.

Keywords: Health education; Research; Schools

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 23, 2007

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