Monday, 22 June 2015

Zambia trip a life-changing experience

Our programmes provide many opportunities for students to gain valuable work experience before they start their careers.

Sports Therapy student Sam Heap recently accompanied colleagues from various schools across the university to Africa as part of this year's UCLan Sport for Development Project trip.

Established in 2008 by Cliff Olsson, Senior Lecturer in Sport Coaching & Development in the School of Sport, Tourism and The Outdoors, the project gives undergraduates the opportunity to study the global value and contribution sport can make towards supporting the Millennium Development Goals.

The scheme aims to actively support Sport for Development projects being delivered in some of the poorest parts of the world by agencies such as Sport in Action and Zambia-based Edusport.

Sam said the trip was an eye-opening experience: "HIV, AIDS and drug abuse is a massive issue in Africa. We had to teach and educate the children about these problems through the use of sport. It was challenging at first because of the language barrier, but with the help of other peer leaders we managed to overcome this.

"We spent the first week in a community school with three of us looking after over 200 children. Some of them were really badly behaved and it was very challenging. We later moved on to a government funded school which was more structured, but still testing.

"The trip was a big culture shock but also very life-changing for me. In the UK you can donate to charity, but to be able to actually go there and see what the problems are was an enlightening experience."

In the past few years UCLan students have raised over £10,000 towards buying basic sports equipment and supported the building of basketball courts in local rural schools in Zambia.

The project has also provided the opportunity for local voluntary sports leaders from Zambia to come to Preston and share their skills and knowledge with local community volunteers and children from local schools.

In addition to making a difference to people's lives, the trip offers students the chance to apply their skills in a different environment than they are normally exposed to. Sam said this would be a big help to her in the future.

"Going to Zambia has definitely opened my eyes to some of the opportunities that are open to me," said Sam. "Rather than just thinking I'd be working with adults, it's enhanced my skills so I can now consider working with children in sport or in other areas.

"I'd like to go back in 2016 to gain even more experience. I've been told I did well on this year's trip, so I'm hoping to return as a Team Leader. It would be great to see how the money we've raised has been spent and what changes have been made to the children's lives."

To view pictures from the trip please click here.

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