Health Sciences

Community engagement

East Timor - Future in Youth

Future in Youth” project in Timor Leste (East Timor)

The School of Exercise Science is committed to innovative community engagement projects and its major initiative is the “Future In Youth” project in Timor Leste (East Timor). On an annual basis ince 2010, staff and students from the School deliver a three-week After-School football program to engage local teenagers, parents and others, as well as a Coach Education program for local volunteer coaches.

Students have the opportunity to travel to Timor Leste and assist in the community capacity building project in the community of Baucau, 120 kilometres east of the capitol, Dili. Under the supervision of university staff, students work with volunteer coaches to conduct an after-school sport program for youth using the sport of football (soccer) as a vehicle to promote messages of health, wellbeing and life skills. Students are involved in all facets of the program including the preparation, conduct and evaluation. Students find the experience demanding and challenging but also very rewarding from both a personal and professional perspective. The University works in partnership with the Secretariat of State for Youth and Sport to promote the opportunity for youth to participate and to develop an infrastructure for the establishment of community football. A primary legacy would be the first steps in the formation of a community network of sporting teams/clubs.

The outcomes have been outstanding with the “Future In Youth” program recruiting between 800-1000 children and adolescents and 35-60 volunteer coaches into the three-week football program over the periuod 2010-2014. In 2014, the number of youth participating was limited to 800 to ensure a high quality program sporting program was conducted but which had aslo specific messages of health, wellbeing and lifeskills built into the program.

In 2014, a commitment to coach education was reinforced by the conduct of a five-day coaching course conducted by an Instructor from Malaysia through the International Associations of Football Federations (FIFA). The FIFA course was organised through the Football Federation of Timor Leste and 35 local volunteer coaches participated. Following the FIFA course, coaches were able to apply their new skills by organising training drills for their teams in preparation for a five week Round-Robin competition culminating in the presentation of the Copa da Secretaria de Estado da Juventude e do Desporto on 12 September 2014.

Upon reviewing the program through focus groups of coaches and participants, the results indicate that all participants enjoyed the program and wanted more opportunities to play. Observatiuons of coaches indicated an increased confidence to take responsibility for the preparartion of their players and teams.

Future in Youth lecturers talk about the community capacity building program in East Timor.

Nano Nagle Camp

The Nano Nagle Camp is a camp for disadvantaged children aged 6-12 years old who live in the Campbelltown area in Sydney. It is managed by the Presentation Sisters in partnership with St Vincent de Paul Family Care and Support Service at Campbelltown. Camps are run with only 12 children and 8-10 volunteer leaders who act as positive role models and mentors, whilst helping to engage the children in camp activities including archery, low ropes, canoeing, sports, craft, swimming and team initiative courses. Exercise Science students have been participating as camp leaders since 2009, with over 15 students each year attending training and each of the ten camps. An increase in funding, and participation of volunteer camp leaders, has meant that there has been able to be an increase in the number of camps offered over the past couple of years.

Edmund Rice Camps

Edmund Rice camps offer holiday programs for disadvantaged children of all ages, with the majority coming from the Mt Druitt area in Sydney. The camp, set up by the Christian Brothers, is staffed by young volunteers (18-35 years) who participate in all aspects of the programs. Students from the School of Exercise Science at Strathfield, together with students from other faculties, aim to provide the children with a safe, positive, fun and rewarding holiday experience. Volunteer leaders are asked to be attentive to the needs of the children and to act as positive role models. The camp challenges the young adult volunteer leaders to offer friendship and leadership. Being responsible for children allows the volunteers to enhance their own living skills, responsibility, and self-awareness of their talents. Exercise Science provides two camp leaders at each of the nine annual Edmund Rice camps.

Future in Youth Milperra

Milperra State High School's students are from refugee backgrounds and attend to develop their English language skills in preparation for integration to mainstream schools. The fitness levels and basic motor skills of many of these students are behind that of Australian students due to their background. Students from the School of Exercise Science at ACU have engaged with the Milperra students through sport as a means to enhance their movement capacities and have fun in an inclusive environment. The program also includes an introduction to Australian sports such as Australian Rules football. Although the program only began in 2012, a positive working relationship has already been formed between Milperra and the School of Exercise Science. The students at Milperra have found a new space to express themselves through movement and take part in what is such an integral element of Australian life.

Operation Hope

Wesley Mission’s Operation Hope is an early intervention sponsorship program which seeks to build self esteem, heighten self worth and encourage children to believe in themselves. Through participation in outdoor adventure-based activities, team building experiences, and other life-changing programs at the recreation facility Vision Valley, children are validated and affirmed as individuals who are valued and have a purpose. Students in the School of Exercise Science have been assisting Operation Hope as New Volunteer Leaders to help support these young people through their camp. This is an exciting opportunity for anyone interested in working with young people at risk in a week of challenging and exciting outdoor adventure activities.