Chris Lewis, a Sport Psychology student at Leeds Trinity University, recently travelled to South Africa as a volunteer to support the launch of an initiative teaching children, living in rural areas, how to cycle.
The initiative forms part of the wider work by The Bambisanani Partnership, an organisation linking UK and South African schools through sport and physical education. Sport is used as a catalyst to promote education, health, global citizenship and leadership in one of South Africa's poorest communities.
Joined by a group of his peers from other organisations also working with The Bambisanani Partnership, Chris spent time with children living in the KwaZulu-Natal province, one of South Africa's most deprived and rural areas. Chris helped teach skills such as how to ride and maintain bicycles, with the aim of bettering their overall cycling knowledge and proficiency.
The bikes were provided by South African based organisation, KZN Cycling, a partner in the initiative, who followed the volunteers from one school to another with a mobile cycling hub containing essential equipment. The aim of the initiative is to teach 5,000 young people how to cycle each year.
The four-week scheme also saw the volunteers deliver leadership programmes, classroom-based learning and sports sessions across the range of primary and high schools they visited.
Leeds Trinity University is a significant member of The Bambisanani Partnership, founded through St Mary's Menston School in West Yorkshire, and has regularly had student volunteers travel to South Africa. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, this is the first time since 2019 that students have been able to make the trip.
Chris Lewis said: “The project was a great opportunity to improve employability skills like adaptability and teamwork and was extremely rewarding because I saw learners progress with their cycling skills and leadership training so quickly.
“I believe I’ve made an impact by paving a way for the project to develop in the future so that children from rural areas in South Africa continue to have access to and benefit from new opportunities.”
Chris Rowley, Deputy Head of School of Psychology and Therapeutic Studies at Leeds Trinity University and Project Lead for The Bambisanani Partnership, added: “It was amazing to see students and staff returning to the region this summer. I know that Chris Lewis will have been a great ambassador for our University, and his visit alongside his peers will help to re-establish our presence in the region.
“Furthermore, it will help ensure that there is opportunity for Leeds Trinity students to be involved in future visits for years to come. We believe the project will continue to have a positive impact and benefit for both UK and South African students alike.”
David Geldart, Founder and CEO of The Bambisanani Partnership, said: “Chris deserves enormous credit for his outstanding volunteer work in South Africa helping the Bambisanani Partnership to not only deliver our existing internationally renowned programmes but also to introduce new initiatives to new schools and organisations.
“This is difficult work in the most challenging of circumstances, but the learning opportunities are immense for all involved. Leeds Trinity University is a key member of our partnership which is committed to using the power of sport to pioneer collaborative learning opportunities for students in both countries. This is real education that can transform young people and make the world a better place. The University truly 'lives its values' by providing such amazing global education opportunities for its students.”
Students at Leeds Trinity University are actively encouraged to spend time studying and working abroad. For more information on the opportunities available, visit the website.