High performance in the Solomon Islands
A trip to the Solomon Islands has given Sport and Exercise Science students valuable experience working with both elite athletes and village communities.
The 12 students and three staff members from James Cook University’s Cairns and Townsville campuses spent a week in Honiara, working with the High Performance Program at the Solomon Islands’ new Sports and Leadership Institute, before visiting Malaita, where they worked in three villages.
“This was our sixth student visit to the Solomon Islands, where our previous focus has been on working with village communities,” JCU senior lecturer Dr Glen Deakin said.
“Working with the High Performance Program adds an extra level of learning for the students, who worked on strength and conditioning programs with Solomon Islands athletes.
“Training in the Solomon Islands involves coping with heat and humidity, which our students are used to,” Dr Deakin said. “It also gives them valuable experience in adapting what they’ve learnt to different circumstances and another culture.”
The students are in the second and third year of their studies, and were accompanied by staff with expertise in strength and conditioning, exercise testing and prescription, and exercise physiology, including training in heat and humidity.
After a week in Honiara, the students and staff divided into three teams to spend a week in the villages of Abitona, Wyfolonga and Canaan.
“The students always enjoy visiting the villages, where they develop exercise routines and physical activity games for men, women and children of different ages and abilities,” Dr Deakin said.
“Those visits challenge the students to develop sport and exercise activities that suit local culture, conditions and resources.
“The programs they develop are intended to help people build and maintain their health and fitness, at a time when western foods and lifestyle are beginning to have an impact.”
Dr Deakin said rising sea levels were also affecting some communities. “Where there’s not a lot of level ground, and high tides are encroaching on that space more often, we have to be creative about what activities we develop.”
Dr Deakin said the University was grateful for the opportunity to introduce the students to the Solomon Islands.
“We always receive a great welcome, and the students loved working with local communities and learning about local culture.
“We’re very pleased to have received an assurance of New Colombo Program funding for our visits up to 2022. That gives us the continuity to work on longer-term projects at the village level and now with the Sports and Leadership Institute.”
The visit was supported by the New Colombo Program, a Federal Government initiative in which Australian university students are sent abroad to learn, build friendships and strengthen ties with neighbouring Indo-Pacific countries.
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