Durham University students address the HIV/AIDS crisis in Zambia
(17 October 2006)
Seven Durham University students have returned to the UK from Africa after completing four-week placements designed to educate adolescent girls about the dangers of HIV/AIDS.
The all-female team travelled to the capital of Zambia, Lusaka. There, they took part in various projects including delivering workshops, developing recreational activities for children and building HIV/AIDS awareness through sport. The inaugural student placements are part of Sport in Action – Zambia, the national pilot for the UK’s Sport IDEALS (International Development of Excellence and Leadership through Sport). One of the students returning home, Laura Williamson, who graduated in English Literature this summer, now works for Hawk-Eye Innovations, a company set-up by another Durham University graduate, Paul Hawkins. Laura said: “This was a truly humbling experience and one which I will never forget. “There are thousands of people living in poor conditions. Many of them are fabulous, enthusiastic children, eager to get involved and improve themselves despite their difficult backgrounds.” Through the continued success of these placements it is hoped that young people will learn life-skills that help them to adopt healthy lifestyles and avoid infection from the deadly disease. Durham University’s Director of Sport, Dr Peter Warburton, has worked in partnership with five other UK universities to train and place a total of 36 students in Lusaka this summer. Known as the Wallace Group, the other top sporting universities involved in the partnership are Northumbria, Loughborough, Bath, Stirling and UWIC. Dr Warburton, who joined the girls in Lusaka during the summer, said: “University students and staff have worked tirelessly to support this project and have taken part in a wide range of fundraising activities - even climbing to the top of Ben Nevis! In total raising over £12,000 in just six months. “This money has enabled us to provide vital equipment such as desperately needed sports equipment and educational resources. I would like to thank everyone that contributed to this summer’s activities, without their support and hard work this would not have been possible.” During their visit the students led clinics on their specialist sports for local teachers and leaders. Their roles also involved writing manuals on key aspects of their sport, warm ups and team building games and, talent spot gifted members of their teams or school classes to continue their coaching roles after they returned to the UK. Dr Warburton added: “Sport in Action - Zambia has had an excellent first summer, all the students involved have had an extremely positive impact on the groups they worked with and richly deserve our congratulations. “By continuing this work into future years we hope to be able to provide a significant resource to these communities taking the project from strength-to-strength.” The project is a partnership between UK Sport, the Wallace Group, Sport in Action and Edusport. Sport in Action and Edusport are non-governmental organisations (NGOs) based in Lusaka. Both charities aim to develop the life and leadership skills of local children and spread vital messages about HIV and AIDS through the powerful medium of sport. Zambia is the eighth poorest country in the world. Of a population of over 11 million, over 1.5million are infected with the HIV/AIDS virus. Plans have already begun for 2007 with fundraising activities featuring high on the university agenda. For more information contact Dr Peter Warburton on 0191 334 2165 or email firstname.lastname@example.org