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Project Zambia sprinting ahead

Credit: Ian Gaunt

Project Zambia, a University initiative aimed at taking health, education and sport to the children of Zambia, has benefited from the generosity of a Scottish running club.

Next week a team of students and staff from the University of St Andrews will depart for Zambia with donated sports equipment and clothing including thirty pairs of running shoes for the cause.

Perth Road Runners requested club members to give up good quality trainers to the project in aid of Zambian children.

Kenneth Stewart, a member of the Perth club and an employee of the University commented, “The response has been exceptional, with over 30 quality pairs of shoes – ready for despatch to Zambia.”

The initiative is a collaborative effort between the University’s Departments of Sport & Exercise and Student Services, and will see the group of thirteen staff and students head over to Zambia at the end of May to work with communities in the capital city Lusaka as well as rural areas.

The eight students were selected on the basis of their outstanding achievements in the sporting field and voluntary work.  The five girls and three boys include the Captains of the Rugby and Water Polo teams, and a Nightline (confidential listening service) worker.

In collaboration with the established non-government organisation Sport in Action, the group will spend the summer living and working in Zambia, supporting local organisations and directly providing children there with educational and sporting activities as well as emotional support and education on disease prevention.  Much of the support will be given to Aids orphans, many of them the main carer of their family.

Stephen Stewart, Director of Sport & Exercise, has already spent some time working with children in Zambia with Sport in Action, alongside colleague Ian Gaunt. He explained how the group will use sport as a vehicle to educate children in local communities, schools and orphanages.

He said, “Because Zambia has an 80% unemployment rate, sport is one way of passing the time, but it also brings people together and provides a release from everyday pressures.  Our talented athletes will run sport workshops and share their skills with the local children as a way of encouraging interaction as well as physical activity.”

Chris Lusk, Director of Student Services, added, “The gains are not only one way: the project offers the chance for increasing numbers of students to develop their independent skills and open their minds to the practical application of their talents within a global context.  The local support for the project has been amazing and it is anticipated that the students, on return, will share their experiences with local groups and school children providing possible role models here at home also.”

Stephen and Chris will be joined by fellow staff members, Ailsa Ritchie (Director of Student Support), Ian Gaunt (Sports Development Officer) and Debby Sargent (Performance Sport Manager).  The staff team provides a varied range of expertise in the counselling and sporting fields vital to the success of the project.  To date some £15,000 has been raised to support the project through events which have attracted funding from townspeople, university staff, the student community and local school pupils and their parents.

For further information or to pledge support, visit http://www.project-zambia.org
For further information on Sport in Action visit http://www.sportinaction.org

ENDS

NOTE TO PICTURE EDITORS: AN IMAGE IS AVAILABLE FROM THE PRESS OFFICE – CONTACTS BELOW.

Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews
Contact Fiona Armstrong, Press Officer on 01334 462530 / 467227, Mobile: 07730 415 015 or Email: fa12@st-andrews.ac.uk
Ref:  project zambia 20/05/09
View the latest University press releases at www.st-andrews.ac.uk

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