Olympic hero champions RGU GO: India project

A team of adventurous Robert Gordon University (RGU) students will deliver health, nutrition and sport sessions to young people in India next year as part of a new initiative backed by Olympic champion Dr Katherine Grainger CBE.

RGU GO: India project team (L to R) Mark Williams, Izzy Crawford, Rachael Hayward, Dave Philips, Bryan McCann, Julia Kennedy and Susan Lennie.

The RGU GO: India project is the latest development linked to the award-winning Aberdeen Youth Games (AYG) initiative and will see a multidisciplinary team of twelve students travel to India for four weeks next August and September.

RGU Applied Sport and Exercise Science lecturer Bryan McCann, from the School of Health Sciences, has joined forces with Event Management lecturer Rachael Hayward fromAberdeen Business School and a team of colleagues from across the university to develop and deliver the pilot project.

RGU GO: India is also backed by London 2012 Olympic gold medallist Dr Katherine Grainger CBE who is an ambassador for the Aberdeen Youth Games.

A competitive application process was launched at the start of the university semester for eligible students who are interested in the project. Those shortlisted took part in group interviews in November and the team line up will be announced in January.

The successful students will spend four weeks in India, with three weeks based at Manipal University, which has existing links with RGU’s Faculty of Health and Social Care, and one week in Mumbai.

Due to the skillsets required, the team will comprise of two students each from Applied Sport and Exercise ScienceNutritionPR and MediaEvent ManagementCommunication Design and Journalism.

During their time in India the students will design, promote and deliver a health, nutrition and sport project for young people in the Manipal community which address local health issues.

Working in a multidisciplinary group will increase the student’s understanding of the contribution their own and different subject areas can make towards health in community settings and different cultures.

Dr Katherine Grainger CBE

Dr Katherine Grainger CBE is a key supporter of the Aberdeen Youth Games in her role as ambassador and is pleased to see the RGU GO: India project develop to provide international opportunities for students.

She said: “The success and development of the Aberdeen Youth Games has been an absolute joy to be involved with, and so I couldn’t be happier that the university is now taking the programme international through RGU GO: India.

“It will be a fantastic learning experience for the students. They will have an opportunity to share their own knowledge and also get a chance to learn directly from a different country and culture.

“Hopefully it will be a hugely rewarding experience for both the students and the children in Manipal, and another inspirational step for the AYG project and for RGU.”

The RGU GO: India project team has secured £19,197 in funding from the Scottish Government’s Outward Mobility Fund (OMF) and the RGU Foundation has committed a further £1,000.

The university has also contributed £35,276 as in-kind support for the project which is also receiving logistical support from the British Council as part of their Generation UK-India programme which aims to support 25,000 young people and professionals from the UK to undertake placements in India by 2020.

Richard Everitt, Head of Education and Society, British Council India, said: “Generation UK-India aims to encourage greater understanding between the UK and India. The RGU GO: India project is an excellent example of how collaboration between UK and Indian universities can deliver this.

“As well as gaining invaluable international experience and a greater awareness of one of the world’s most important countries, all students involved will develop skills that will undoubtedly benefit their future careers.”

Mr McCann and Miss Hayward will travel with the students who will have to undertake fundraising activities to help cover travel costs for their trip.

The students will also engage with their Indian counterparts online in advance of the trip to gain an understanding of the health challenges within the Manipal community.

Mr McCann said: “We’re very excited to launch RGU GO: India and give students the chance to spend time in the country and deliver practical sessions to children in Manipal.

“They will be working as a team from the very start so there are opportunities for interprofessional development and training at each stage of the project as well as the chance for students to apply their skills in a different culture when we are in India.

“This is a new opportunity for students at RGU and as such we are treating it as a pilot. We had a lot of students from each faculty apply to the programme, demonstrating the demand for such mobility projects. If successful we will look to secure funding to make this an annual opportunity for students.”

Prior to the trip next year, Mr McCann will travel to India later this month to attend a Study in Scotland event in Mumbai with colleagues from the university’s international team to give a presentation on RGU GO: India and also establish and strengthen connections in Manipal to develop the project.

Those working on the programme at RGU also include: Aberdeen Business School Media and Communication lecturers Izzy Crawford and Dave Philips, Nutrition and Dietetics lecturer Susan Lennie from RGU’s School of Pharmacy and Life SciencesCameron Craddock from Gray’s School of Art, and RGU’s International Exchanges Manager Julia Kennedy.

RGU’s Streetsport initiative, led by Development Officer Mark Williams, will also support the student’s training and fundraising efforts before they make the trip.

For more information on RGU GO: India, please contact Bryan McCann via b.mccann@rgu.ac.uk

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