Up next on our career profiles- Sarah Chadwick gives us some insight into her role as a Cancer Prevention Officer in the Irish Cancer Society
What inspired you towards a career in health promotion?
When I saw the description of Sport Science and Health BSc in the prospectus as a 6th year student, I thought it would suit me given my interest in health and fitness. Once I started the course, it soon became clear to me that the area of the course I wanted to specialise in was health promotion because I felt passionate about empowering and supporting people to live healthy lives. Since then, I’ve been delighted to work in lots of different aspects of health promotion through my MSc studies and work experience- research and evaluation, building partnerships, advocating and programme planning and implementation. I can really see how Health Promotion has started to come to the fore in Ireland since I began my career so it’s very exciting to be working in an evolving and expanding field.
What does a typical day look like for you and what are you currently working on?
I work as a Cancer Prevention Officer in the Irish Cancer Society. We deliver health promotion programmes that support people to reduce their cancer risk by working in partnership with community organisations and other support services with common goals. I support the Fit for Work and Life community cancer prevention programme and I lead the delivery of X-HALE Youth Smoking Prevention and Education programme. X-HALE aims to educate and empower young people and their supporters to learn and share the facts about the harmful impact of tobacco. Some days I will be in the office planning and coordinating, others I will be out facilitating. I’m responsible for delivering training each year for youth workers across the country to build their capacity in addressing tobacco in their settings. We also provide an opportunity for the young people they work with to advocate for a tobacco free generation, develop their skills through workshops and use their creativity by making a short film to share what they learn with their peers and communities. At the moment we are working on developing pathways within the programme for youth advocates and youth worker champions so that they can progress to participating in additional tobacco control efforts at all levels. I’m also planning for our yearly X-HALE Youth Awards in July and working with the HSE Tobacco Partners group to organise a conference on mobilising communities to work towards a tobacco free Ireland.
What advice would you give to anyone starting out in a career in health promotion?
I would say it’s important to take every opportunity to build your skills and experience and to keep up to date with what’s going on in the Health Promotion community, joining AHPI is a good place to start!
What does AHPI membership mean for you?
As the secretary of AHPI, it’s been great to see the inner workings of the work we do to strengthen and support Health Promotion in Ireland. I’ve really enjoyed networking with health promotion practitioners, researchers and educators from around the country and I’ve developed my skills and knowledge through participating in the professional development workshops that we run. It’s also been fantastic to see the introduction of the IUHPE Health Promotion Practitioner registration system here In Ireland under AHPI, a very exciting step for the association and the profession. I’m currently working on my application and will hopefully join those already on the register soon!
What is your proudest moment working at the Irish Cancer Society?
I feel proud when I see and hear about the impact of the work we do- when new opportunities arise as a result of building partnerships, when organisations succeed in implementing a tobacco free policy with our support, when youth workers say they feel more confident addressing tobacco following training, and when young people report that they intend to live a tobacco free life and encourage their friends and family to do the same after taking part in X-HALE... makes it all feel worthwhile!