Every year the Team Durham calendar is full of fundraising sporting events all in aid of Sport in Action Zambia. This year has been no exception, with the latest event being the Zambia Fun Run, which was held Thursday 26th February. Hundreds of local children were invited down to Maiden Castle to compete in the event whilst raising money for the charity. But how many of our student body know about the relationship between Durham University and Zambia?
Sport in Action Zambia is a non-governmental organisation which aims to enrich the lives of young people and promote social messages through sport and physical activity. They work in the areas of Zambia with the highest levels of deprivation and economic hardship. In addition to delivering healthy lifestyle messages, Sport in Action have a hugely successful leadership programme, whereby they identify “Peer Leaders” within the communities and provide them with education and training for them to become coaches and mentors.
Durham University started working with Sport in Action Zambia in 2006, along with several other UK universities as part of the UK Sport IDEALS project. The partnership involved a group of university students joining the SIA staff and Peer Leaders to spend the summer coaching in the country’s capital city, Lusaka, supporting the programme and exchanging coaching practices. We are now in our 10th year of the partnership and so much has been achieved. The universities involved, known as the Wallace Group, is made up of St Andrews, Stirling, Northumbria, Durham, Loughborough, Bath and Cardiff. Approximately 330 students have been involved in the project, a number of which have set up several UK charities to support the projects and people of Zambia. The Wallace Group has initiated several spin off projects in Zambia including a construction project building several multipurpose games areas, a nursing project and a drama project.
One of the SIA sites which truly captured the heart of the Durham staff and students alike is Fountain of Hope, a refuge for street children. Children who would otherwise be living in horrendously dangerous and frightening conditions are welcomed into a safe and secure environment where they can receive medical help, food, showers, warm beds, education and sports coaching. A few years ago Fountain of Hope hit hard times; the toilets and showers were no longer sanitary and they no longer had the funds to feed the children attending the centre. Dr Peter Warburton, Dean of Experience Durham, made it his mission to save the centre and has since secured sponsorship and funds to rebuild and maintain the toilets and shower block and has sourced support for a food payment programme which has enabled Fountain of Hope to continue to help as many children as possible.
More help comes through Sport in Action Zambia with regards to education. Sadly, secondary education is not a free service to the children of Zambia and only those who can afford the fees can access the schools. Durham has developed a school education programme which enables us to use the funding raised from our charity events to finance children through their education. We are currently sponsoring eight children, with plans to increase this number in the near future.
Does this sound like something you want to help with? There are many wonderful events and projects to get involved in with Sport in Action Zambia here in Durham. For example, this year’s Zambia Fun Run was organised by a team of third year Sports students. Making their mark on the event, they offered the children activity stations to get the children raring to go, and keep them warm as they waited. A conga line with an eagle, penalty shoot-out against a panda and high-fives with a trophy mascot certainly didn’t allow the children time to get cold. The event raised an impressive £1,900 for the charity. We offer a big thank you to everyone who got involved with the event, including the participants, the local sixth form sport leaders volunteers, the university volunteers, the Team Durham staff members, and of course the event management team without whom such a fantastic day wouldn’t have been possible. Our next event is Hill Bailey Rugby on the 6th May 2015 – the more who come the merrier.
Another brilliant SIA opportunity will be experienced by four students travelling out to Zambia this summer. They will be spending 6 weeks teaching PE lessons, coaching sport and delivering health-related workshops to Zambian children. This is a fantastic opportunity to get involved with international development and gain invaluable life skills whilst having a life-changing experience. Applications will open for the 2016 cohort in October 2015. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.