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UCLan students use sporting knowledge to teach Zambian children

03 August 2015

Lyndsey Boardman

Sport is important tool for education

Students from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) have visited Zambia to support the delivery of key health messages to young people about the dangers of drug abuse and HIV through the power of sport.

More than 40 students from a range of sports, media, law, physiotherapy and sexual health courses spent a total of eight weeks across three cohort visits in the African country as part of the UCLan Sport for Development Project trip that is now in its eighth year.

The project involves UCLan students working with peer leader volunteers from Sport in Action, a Zambian based Sport for Development NGO, to deliver key health messages and life skills through sport and physical activity.

Sports therapy student Sam Heap took part in the trip and said it 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. 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."

“This programme continues to go from strength to strength and is essentially about coaching at a community level and the differences it can make to the lives of these young people in improving life quality.”

The Sport for Development Project was established in 2008 by Cliff Olsson, senior lecturer in sports coaching and development in the School of Sport, Tourism and The Outdoors. It gives students the opportunity to study the global value and contribution sport can make towards supporting wider international development such as the Millennium Development Goals and gives them a better informed perspective of global challenges.

Cliff commented: “This programme continues to go from strength to strength and is essentially about coaching at a community level and the differences it can make to the lives of these young people in improving life quality. It takes learning beyond the classroom and provides an experience that we believe underpins real learning for the real world.

"The project is led by final year undergraduates who develop leadership, management and problem solving skills over a three week period in Zambia. It's a unique opportunity that reinforces UCLan's commitment to providing real life experiences for our students."

In the past few years UCLan students have raised more than £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 community volunteers and children from local schools.