PROJECTS to promote healthy living messages to young people in Hartlepool have been a success.

Schemes to offer advice to teenagers and children about sexual health, drugs, smoking, alcohol, emotional issues and coronary heart disease are to be repeated because of the number of young people who have been interested and sought advice.

In the past school nurses provided the support service to young people on a one-to-one basis, but the take-up was as low as 30 per cent.

School nurses who work for Hartlepool Primary Care Trust looked at how they could reach more youngsters and came up with the idea of a health fair, which went into almost all of Hartlepool's secondary schools.

Experts in domestic violence, drug and substance misuse, smoking cessation, sexual health, child and adolescent mental health, health development, behaviour and emotional support, and sports development were involved in the project.

School nurse team leader Terri Wells, who ran the programme with colleague Tracey Towers-Dewhirst, said the initiative had reached as many as 90 per cent of 13 and 14-year-olds in the Hartlepool area. Ms Wells said: "In the past, the number of teenagers accessing information was very low - yet we know that when they reach 15 and 16, they are smoking, drinking and some of them are getting involved in sexual activity.

"The aim is to make the services more accessible while talking to the young people about really important issues in an environment that's familiar to them."

For younger children in primary schools, the trust has piloted a separate programme to educate youngsters about the risks of coronary heart disease.