Inspiring the next generation of local schoolgirls

Staff from Guy’s and St Thomas’ have been inspiring the next generation of female scientists and healthcare workers, with the organisation I Can Be.

In the first half of 2019,ICanBe_summerschool Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust staff hosted 24 visits from local children aged seven and eight, as part of its work to help people in south London get an experience of healthcare and research careers.

Sessions for local schoolgirls with the Trust’s staff have focused on a range of roles and subjects, including statistics, cells and bacteria, and speech and language therapy.

I Can Be brings young children into the world of work. It was founded for girls and has recently started running visits for boys. The charity places particular emphasis on science careers, where women are underrepresented.

Jakki Brandon, a research nurse at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, has led sessions showing girls how she prepares newborns for MRI scans.

Jakki said of the visits:

I wanted to get involved with I Can Be, not only because I feel strongly about providing opportunities for children and young people to learn about potential careers, but also because I’m passionate about my job.
I feel really privileged to be in a role and a team which contributes to valuable research and healthcare. I felt that if I could help to spread that message in any way to children and young people then that would be hugely rewarding.

In another visit, researcher Emily Read taught girls about cells and bacteria by making petri dish art. Several of the girls who took part now want to be scientists.

Anastasia de Waal, founding director at I Can Be, said:

The visits to Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust have gone really well. That so many professionals, with important and busy jobs, wanted to give their time to inspire girls was overwhelming, and not something we've seen in many of the industries we work within.
The staff have planned exciting and imaginative activities for the children, finding practical ways to teach them about complex things. The hands-on approach the volunteers have taken, and the time spent carefully planning these activities, makes the visits really special.
The volunteers are having a big impact on the children and making such an impression that many now want to follow in their footsteps.

Chinonso Nwannadi, a human resources project manager at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust who coordinates the visits, said:

We want to inspire young children and our staff are great role models. We’re so grateful that they’re giving their time.

Read more on the Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust website.