2015 has been an exciting year for the Cardiff Met Zambia Project as it has celebrated ten years of involvement in the UK Sport IDEALS (International Development through Excellence and Leadership in Sport) programme.
Every summer, Cardiff School of Sport select five undergraduate student volunteers to work in some of the most deprived areas of Zambia for 6 weeks. The project is designed to help make a difference to the lives of children in Zambia, and brings together student volunteers from 7 universities across the UK to work with communities in and around the nation's capital Lusaka.
Working in teams, students organise and run a wide range of sporting activities, workshops, and aids awareness sessions using donated sporting equipment from various organisations in the United Kingdom. The programme focuses on the positive impact sport can have in communities blighted with unemployment, poverty, and HIV/AIDS.
Sport Development Lecturer at Cardiff Met, Sara Nicholes said: "The UK Sport IDEALS Zambia Project is a fantastic opportunity for our students to develop some key coaching and life skills, while making a very real and positive contribution to people's lives. The experience is life-changing for many of our students taking part and the impact on individuals and communities is clear to see.
"I feel very proud that we have been involved in this initiative over the years. Sport can be a very powerful tool in teaching life skills and bringing people together. It acts as a much needed distraction to daily life for many in Zambia and the programme successfully uses this passion for sport to improve the quality of life for many.
"The life skills learnt through the programme promote improved communication, and motivation, with the aim of empowering young people. Our students come home with some very powerful stories about the people they have met and the lives they have affected. It really does present a special opportunity and we look forward to continuing our work with the programme over the next ten years."
Sport and Physical Education undergraduate student Jon Nottingham spent 6 weeks in Zambia over the summer. He said: "This was honestly the best experience of my life. I would love to go back as a team leader, having built up relationships with some unbelievable, inspirational people from Zambia and other students from the UK.
"I learnt a lot about myself during my time on this programme and definitely developed as a coach and teacher. I would recommend this trip to anybody looking to go in to a coaching or teaching profession."
Jon was one of four students supported by Cardiff Met's Short Term Mobility Fund. Short Term Mobility Funding provides programme directors with the opportunity to apply for funding to partially support international activities for their students, such as summer schools, collaborative projects and volunteering placements.
Cardiff Met recently secured a donation of 2000 T-shirts from the organisers of the Cardiff Half Marathon – Run Wales, for the Zambia project. These were presented earlier this week by Race Director Steve Brace and will be sent to Zambia as gifts for supporters of the programme. Cardiff Metropolitan University is a sponsor partner of the Cardiff Half Marathon which runs every October in the capital city.