Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Mac leaves Green Gecko legacy

Mac McCarthy's long SSTO career is coming to end in June, but the popular lecturer leaves safe in the knowledge he's made a real difference to many lives.

Perhaps Mac's biggest achievement has been his work with the Green Gecko Project - a school and home for former street children - establishing a link which has benefited both children in Cambodia and our own students.

Mac has just returned from Green Gecko for the final time and has sent some details about the Project:

"After my first visit to Green Gecko I spoke to my old friend Edwin Thwaites about developing a new form of assignment for final year students. The idea was to integrate and develop their skills within a team-based problem solving context.

"They would split into small groups to develop and run projects to raise money in a competitive market environment - essentially the real world in microcosm.

"In addition to taking a group to Cambodia each year for field study and volunteer work, over £38,000 has been raised since we began this journey. I'd hoped to reach £40,000 before retirement, and we did get close!

"The learning opportunities provided for our students are invaluable to their futures. Numerous students have been in touch over the years to say how much they learned from a task that proved to be harder than it looks.

"One of the students who visited there is taking up an opportunity to work in a similar setting in Korea. I even got a message from someone I taught over 20 years ago in another institution, reminding me of a similar initiative we developed for supporting Romanian orphans.

"Just a few weeks ago two Preston women, holidaying in Cambodia, went to Green Gecko because they'd heard about it as a result of our students' fund-raising efforts.

"When I started it, I had one aim for our students - that they should learn about the challenges of implementing their management skills in a real world setting and gain some real insights into this and the fact that life is more than just career and salary.

"I had two aims for Green Gecko - that we would keep raising money in order to keep them open, and that we would reach a point, when I retire, where they no longer relied on our money for that. Our money now pays the rent each year."

Monday, 19 May 2014

Students change lives at Green Gecko

Students from the SSTO's Tourism, Hospitality and Event Management programmes have raised £4,700 for an Asian children's charity.

As part of their final year module ‘Management Development,’ students organised a series of events ahead of a life-changing trip to Cambodia to visit the Green Gecko Project - a school for disadvantaged children.

The trip helps students enhance their learning in a developing country, whilst also gaining personal and professional skills by volunteering at Green Gecko. Students arrived on the first day of Cambodian New Year and celebrated a traditional Songkran Festival in the grounds of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Angkor Wat.

Celebrations continued for three days across the country and students participated spontaneously with traditional dance and games, which helped break down any cross-cultural barriers. The group continued to experience the rich culture and diversity Cambodia has to offer by visiting various tourist attractions including the Temples of Angkor, TonleSap, and Kulen Mountain National Park.

The second week began with an induction day before the students volunteered to teach six classes daily. Module leader Peter McGrath praised their efforts: "Before they arrived the group had no teaching experience, so this was a tough test in which they all excelled.

"The lessons they delivered were both educational and fun and this was clear by the Gecko childrens’ excitement and enthusiasm throughout the week."

Senior Lecturer Mac McCarthy added: "Now the students have been to the Green Gecko Project they appear to have a renewed zest for life that embraces real values, rather than just the desire for a well-paid career."

This year's total takes the overall amount raised by SSTO students to over £38,000 – cementing the SSTO's commitment to make a difference through education.

Event Management student Luciana Capaldi said the trip had changed her outlook on life: "I'm the same person I was when I left, but with different values and prospects for life. One day I will strive to be part of a similar project to the Green Gecko."

A selection of images from the trip can be viewed here.

Monday, 12 May 2014

SSTO help charity make a difference

SSTO undergraduates raised nearly £1,500 for Derian House by organising a range of events.

As part of their TL3082 Sport and Leisure Events module, students from the Sports Development & Enterprise programme were joined by colleagues from Sports Business Management & Marketing to organise, promote and stage events which included a casino night, a pub quiz and football, pool & table-tennis tournaments.

The money was raised in aid of Derian Lodge, which caters for the unique needs of young people aged 16-25 with a life-limiting illness.

SSTO Lecturer Louisa Jones said: "For a small group of students to raise almost £1,500 is a tremendous achievement. I'm delighted with their efforts in giving something back to the community while developing their own skills."

Lucy Sawdon-Collings from Derian House praised the students' efforts: "As I explained when I first met everyone, the hospice relies almost entirely on donations to continue to offer the support and care we give to families throughout the North West.

"You can rest assured the money raised will definitely make a difference. A huge Thank You on behalf of everyone at Derian House - it's an absolutely fantastic amount and we truly do appreciate every penny."

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Students set for Zambia trip

SSTO undergraduates were invited to BBC Radio Lancashire's studios to discuss their upcoming trip to Zambia.

Katie Pattenden and Lauren Parkinson were joined by Media student Michael Jackson on John Gillmore's afternoon show to talk about the UCLan Sport for Development Project.

Working in partnership with Sport in Action, Senior Lecturer Cliff Olsson created the project in 2008 to provide students with an opportunity to study the global value and contribution sport can make towards supporting the Millennium Development Goals.

The scheme aims to actively support Sport For Development projects being delivered in some of the poorest parts of the world by agencies such as Sport in Action and Zambia-based Edusport.

The projects rely upon the goodwill of voluntary sports leaders from the compounds who work with some of the most vulnerable children in the world with only the most basic of resources, delivering key life skill messages through activities and games.

Around 30 students from the Sports Coaching & Development, Sports Studies and Media programmes will travel to Zambia to work at a variety of schools with children aged 3-16.

The trio are all making return visits after taking part in the 2013 trip. Katie commented: "We're looking forward to going back into the community, they are so welcoming and happy to see you. To be doing something the kids want to be doing and are happy doing is a change from here. It makes it worth going out there."

Since 2011 students have raised over £10,000 towards buying basic sports equipment and supporting the building of basketball courts in local rural schools in Zambia. In addition the project provided the opportunity for the local voluntary sports leaders from Zambia to come to Preston and share their skills and knowledge with local community volunteers and children from local schools.