Professor Penny Cook, Professor in Public Health, and Ailsa Parsons, Lecturer in Psychology of Sport and Exercise, have recently returned from Uganda where they worked with charity Teams4U to deliver sports and public health programmes in the rural district of Kumi. Over the 10-day trip, Penny and Ailsa visited seven schools and helped deliver interventions to over 7,000 children.

The Teams4U Uganda programme is the brainchild of honorary Salford graduate Dr Dave Cooke, who developed a physical activity programme to help primary school children achieve better results at school. Since it began, the programme has evolved and changed to tackle some of the underlying issues that lock communities in a cycle of poverty.

The University has been working with charity Teams4U for over eight years and recently, working with Professor Cook, the partnership has developed to enable students on the BSc Public Health and Health Promotion gain hands-on experience of delivering a public health intervention programme in rural Uganda. Over 10 days, students learn how to break down cultural barriers and to communicate with the people they serve in order to make the programme a success. You can read more about this and other public health interventions we have carried out in Uganda in Penny’s blog.

Ailsa Parsons visited Uganda with the aim of encouraging students on the BSc Psychology of Sport programme and other programmes across the University to volunteer with Teams4U. It is hoped that Salford students can learn how sports and physical activity programmes are delivered to large numbers in a low resource setting, with benefits for the children and community around personal and humanitarian development.

Ailsa said: “Small changes make a big difference. The experience of handing a football to a child that has never touched a ball is something that is difficult to describe. Before the programme began, children in rural primary schools in the Kumi district of Uganda didn’t have PE lessons. With pennies in the budget and class sizes at over 100 children per teacher, finding an activity that they could all take part in was difficult but teachers now say they’ll change the way they teach as a result of this simple programme”.

Penny said: “Sanitation is poor in rural schools and we can genuinely transform young girls’ lives by helping them “develop with dignity”. We do this by providing washable menstrual products known as “Afripads” to enable them to stay at school during their cycle – a time when they would normally stay at home.”

In line with the University’s ICZ strategy, the Teams4U and Salford partnership gives our students real-world experience and an opportunity to get involved in research and understand exactly how these interventions work.

Sue Buttress, Associate Dean International said: “The development of this partnership with the School of Health Sciences gives students a very real insight into global health issues in Africa and broadens their horizons, enhancing employability and inspiring confidence.”