During the summer, a team of students had an opportunity to go to India and work out a sport and health initiative. The RGU Go: India project is the latest development linked to the award winning Aberdeen Youth Games initiative. The project involved students from multiple discipline areas (Nutrition, Sports Science, Media, Events Management, PR, Journalism, Communication Design) who spent 4 weeks in Manipal, in the Karnataka region of South-Western India. There, students worked together to develop and deliver health and well-being initiative.
RGU Go:India had several important reasons for being in India implementing our sport initiative. These include preventing diseases in later life, increasing sport and activity levels throughout the country. The aims of RGU Go: India were to promote sport and nutrition with games and activities and to use this to include girls. This is because sports culture in India is almost limited with it taking a backseat to academia with parents being more concerned about their child's studies rather than their mental and physical wellbeing. We wanted to portray to them that sport does not have to be an obstacle when it comes to education, but instead a positive factor that can aid education by reducing stress levels and improving brain activity.
India has earned the dubious title of being the diabetes, hypertension and heart ailment capital. Even more worrying is that obesity is now becoming a more apparent problem in households across the country. With India being the first country to refine sugar it's no surprise that diabetes is so prevalent, however these are extremely important health issues and need to be addressed at a young age.
It was with our sport and nutrition initiative that we hoped to tackle these issues early on, by targeting school children and teaching them fundamental movements (These movements are from the NCCP fundamental movement skills and include throwing, catching and running) and effectively explaining proper nutrition and portion sizes to give the pupils a clear understanding about their meals at home and in school.
However, as a group we did have another goal and key demographic that was to be addressed; in India (as well as other countries) it's uncommon for girls to take part in sporting activities. This could be due to cultural differences, however it's more likely due to girls not being given an opportunity to see how support can be beneficial to them. The media team wanted to make this opportunity apparent by showcasing interviews with women who have successful sporting backgrounds, such as our counterparts who could end up being role models for some of the young girls.
By focusing on the academic prowess of the counterparts it showed that sports can be more than a hobby and could lead to a promising career path. This could persuade many parents to encourage this type of path for their children or even let the pupils explore this avenue themselves. This was achieved through a series of informative interviews with targeted sport science students and by including both young boys and girls in fun activities.
The largest issues faced by British students arriving in Manipal is the cultural differences (and the weather). Having to overcome some other difficulties such as finding locations and schools to hold sports and become accustomed to the processes of asking for permissions and ensuring that there is equipment available at schools as these run very differently to British schools. Speaking with the counterparts was a fantastic opportunity to learn about major cultural differences such as fruit not being pre-packaged!
Overall, the experience was one that I suggest every RGU student to follow if they are interested.