A committed group of students and staff at Scotland’s oldest university have launched a life-changing project in aid of Zambian children.
Eight outstanding students and five key staff members at the University of St Andrews have established Project Zambia, an initiative aimed at taking health education and sport to the children of Zambia.
In collaboration with the well established non-government organisation Sport in Action, the group will spend the summer living and working in Zambia, 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.
The project is the first of its kind at St Andrews and it is hoped that the inaugural year will lead to fixed programme of visits over the next five years. Where possible the project will source equipment locally, providing jobs and income to the area.
The initiative is a collaboration between the University’s Departments of Sport & Exercise and Student Services, and will see the group of thirteen head over to Zambia at the end of May to work with communities in the capital city Lusaka as well as rural areas.
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 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.”
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 share a wide range of expertise in the counseling and sporting fields vital to the success of the project.
Over the coming weeks, the students will lead a large-scale fundraising campaign aimed at raising the £22,000 necessary for the trip. All funds will go towards buying equipment and clothing for Zambian children, schools and orphanages, as well as travel and living costs for the group.
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.
Student Siena Parker commented, “Over a million people – 17% of the population – are living with AIDS in Zambia. Our aim is to work with local orphanages and community schools to provide not just emotional support to sufferers and AIDS orphans, but educational activities to raise awareness on disease prevention. We all have the potential to help provide Zambia with a healthy future population.”
Project Zambia has the patronage of Melanie Marshall, an Olympic and Commonwealth athlete and former British swim team captain.
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
NOTE TO EDITORS:
THE FOLLOWING ARE AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW:
STEPHEN STEWART (SPORT & EXERCISE): TEL 01334 462181, EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org
CHRIS LUSK (STUDENT SERVICES): TEL 01334 462171, EMAIL email@example.com
SIENA PARKER (STUDENT): 07817 575 590.
NOTE TO PICTURE EDITORS:
IMAGES OF IAN GAUNT’S PREVIOUS VISIT TO ZAMBIA AND OF THE STUDENT TEAM ARE AVAILABLE FROM THE PRESS OFFICE – CONTACTS BELOW.
Issued by the Press Office, University of St Andrews
Contact Gayle Cook, Senior Press Officer on 01334 467227 / 462529, mobile 07900 050 103, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Ref: Project Zambia 300309
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