UK (St Mary’s University Twickenham) St Mary’s Academic Launches Treasure Your Chest initiative to help educate schoolgirls on breast health

A scheme providing free breast education support to UK schools is relaunching during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Schools across the UK are being encouraged to sign up to a free initiative which aims to educate young girls on breast health.

Treasure Your Chest is relaunching this October during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, following a hugely successful pilot scheme.

The project provides teachers with credible, reliable and evidence-based information, which has been packaged into downloadable online resources. It was developed by researchers at the University of Portsmouth, St Mary’s University in Twickenham, London, and the University of Chichester.

Listen to Dr Nicola Brown discuss the intiative

It began in 2015, when the team surveyed over 2,000 schoolgirls aged 11 to 17-years-old to learn more about their breast concerns. The findings revealed 87 per cent had at least one concern, and the same number wanted to learn more about them.

Professor Joanna Wakefield-Scurr, from the Research Group in Breast Health at the University of Portsmouth, said: “We believe that girls deserve to receive comprehensive breast education, beyond the biological aspects of puberty taught in schools.

“Breast development can be a positive milestone in the development of the female body, but it can also be an embarrassing and confusing time. Girls can go through periods of self-consciousness, negative body image and low self-esteem as they navigate these changes.

“By empowering girls with knowledge and awareness, we believe that girls’ body confidence, health and participation in physical activity can be significantly improved.”

Their research also revealed almost half (44 per cent) had concerns about breast cancer, 72 per cent wanted to know more, and 77 per cent rated the topic as extremely important.

“Adolescent girls are an important target group for breast cancer awareness as it supports them to develop healthy habits to take into adulthood”, added Professor Wakefield-Scurr.

“But as our research shows more needs to be done to help educate them, and that’s one of the reasons why we wanted to produce these fantastic resources.”

So far the resources, available free of charge, have been downloaded more than 300 times by a variety of schools, clubs, organisations, and parents.

Dr Nicola Brown, from St Mary’s University and the Research Group in Breast Health, added: “The feedback we have received from teachers and schoolgirls about our Treasure Your Chest resources has been really encouraging.

“We would love to see them being used in classrooms up and down the UK, but our overall aim is for the project to influence policy. Eventually, we want to see breast health education become a mandatory part of the curriculum.”

This week, the Treasure Your Chest website has relaunched to encourage more schools to get involved. The resources have also been updated and include comprehensive slides, discussion topics, interactive tasks and videos.

They can be delivered in classrooms in one 60-minute session, or split into three 20-minute sessions. Educator guidance is also provided to help tailor delivery for different students and groups.

Trial lessons have already taken place across five schools in London. Out of the 408 girls who took part, 98 per cent reported an increase in breast knowledge, 90 per cent reported more positive attitudes towards their breasts, and 100 per cent of the teachers said they would embed the workshop into their curriculum.

The free resources are available for schools to download for free from