Last week was a special week for 38 indigenous students who came together in Melbourne to participate in the Raise the Bar Academy, an initiative delivered by Melbourne University Sport and Athletics Australia aimed at inspiring Indigenous secondary school students (Years 10, 11 and 12) to participate in athletics and study at university.
The students, who were successful in completing an extensive application process, travelled from regional areas in Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales to participate in the program from January 15 – 19, 2018.
|Raise the Bar Academy students take to the track at a morning training session at Melbourne University||Panel discussion Dr Tara Purcell and Olympian Patrick Johnson at the 2018 Raise the Bar Academy Celebration Dinner|
The message delivered to the students throughout the four-day program was to encourage them to believe that is possible to pursue academic and sport careers.
Key objectives from the outset were to increase the students skills in athletics (both track and field) and develop their leadership skills to bring back to their sporting clubs at home.
However, it wasn’t just training sessions on the agenda. A main focus of the program was to inspire the students to successfully complete secondary school and pursue tertiary education. The students were mentored by former Australian Olympians and elite athletes and were taught how to network with sport industry professionals and connect with other students to build friendships.
Program founder Carl Junot said “We are using athletics as the engagement tool to raise aspiration around higher education, particularly with study opportunities at the University”.
Athletics Australia CEO, Darren Gocher said “We believe that athletics builds the foundation for Australians to lead healthy and active lives. If the Raise the Bar Academy can help close the education gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians, this is something that we can be proud of”.
On the final night of the program, students were treated to a celebratory dinner featuring a Q&A with Olympian and Commonwealth Games bronze medalist Patrick Johnson and Indigenous Doctor of Medicine, Dr Tara Purcell.
To read more about the Raise the Bar Academy click here.
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