Engaging young people with stroke research

Members of the PRESTIGE-AF consortium at Imperial College London recently took part in Imperial’s STEM Futures outreach programme, which looks to engage young people from underrepresented backgrounds in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects.

PRESTIGE-AF’s Kirsten Harvey (Clinical Trial Manager), Emily Harvey (Clinical Trial Coordinator) and Harry Jenkins (Science Communication Officer) were joined by 30 16-18 year olds from ethnic minority backgrounds to discuss stroke research.

The session kicked off with an overview of the PRESTIGE-AF project, followed by a quiz titled ‘Stroke: Fact or Fiction’, prompting the students to question how much they really know about the disease and to bust common myths – as well as surprise them with powerful statistics, including the fact that stroke is ranked 2nd on the WHO’s list of leading causes of death globally. Those who got questions right were delighted to receive PRESTIGE-AF brain stress balls, which got everyone keen to give their input.

The students were then organised into groups to take on a creative challenge, tasked with coming up with ideas on how to engage people about stroke research, using the new facts and knowledge they’d gained earlier in the section. They were encouraged to think broadly, and the concepts they came up with showed that they took this to heart, with ideas ranging from TikTok videos featuring celebrities to an immersive exhibition that allowed people to walk inside a giant head that explored the range of effects stroke can cause.

Finally, the team discussed careers with the students, talking about all the different kinds of jobs that are involved in research aside from clinicians and researchers, with Kirsten, Emily and Harry discussing their own careers and how they got to where they are.

It was wonderful to see so many young people engaged and interested in learning more about stroke research, and their passion will continue to be inspiring.