Sports program inspires Indigenous youth to consider university education

The Indigenous Youth Sports Program offers sporting, academic and cultural activ
The Indigenous Youth Sports Program offers sporting, academic and cultural activities to Indigenous high school students.

More than 200 Indigenous youngsters had a taste of university life at the annual Indigenous Youth Sports Program last week.

Now in its fifth year, the Indigenous Youth Sports Program offers sporting, academic and cultural activities to introduce Indigenous high school students to university life, to encourage more Indigenous students to aspire to tertiary education.

UQ Pro-Vice Chancellor (Indigenous Education) Professor Cindy Shannon said the program was helping to break down some of the barriers to university life.

“This unique initiative helps students feel comfortable with the idea of going to university by giving them the opportunity to experience university life first-hand in a safe and positive learning environment,” she said.

Institute for Urban Indigenous Health Program John Brady said students perceived university as more achievable after the program and had more positive perceptions of higher education.

"Students come away from the program with a greater respect and appreciation for the role of higher education,” he said.

“Many express a renewed interest and positive attitude towards school work, with the possibility of attending university in the future cited as the main driving force behind their change in attitude.

“Students have also reported greater feelings of self-worth and stated that university has opened their eyes about making positive choices for their future by setting little goals whilst at school,” he said.

The program enables students to benefit from top sporting facilities and equipment and to learn from sport and exercise science students and academics.

Mr Brady said sport and physical activity were the main motivators to connect Indigenous students to schooling and career ambitions.

“Sport and physical activity are significant positive mediums for Indigenous youth,” he said.

“Many of the Indigenous Youth Sport Program activities aim to improve skills and confidence through activities including AFL, athletics, traditional dance and workshops in sports psychology.”

The Indigenous Youth Sports Program was developed by the Institute for Urban Indigenous Health in partnership with the Inala Indigenous Health Service, Education Queensland and UQ’s School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences and UQ’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies Unit.

The program is modelled on the National Youth Sports Program that has been running in the USA for 40 years and has seen significant improvements in university enrolments for African American and low SES students.

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