As a 15-year-old refugee from Pakistan, Ali Muhammad-Jawad knows how isolated he felt as a sports-mad teenager arriving in a new country six years ago.
Now a third-year UCOL Bachelor of Applied Science (Exercise and Wellness) student, Muhammad-Jawad is using his academic might in an effort to rectify that situation for young Palmerston North-based former refugees.
He has been awarded $6400 from Tū Manawa Active Aotearoa through Sport Manawatū, to facilitate his programme that improves access to sport for former refugees.
The four multisport events will take place on Fridays at the Queen Elizabeth College gymnasium, giving an introduction to a variety of sports including basketball, football, netball, frisbee and touch rugby. Two outdoor sessions will cover orienteering and a nature walk with local guides.
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The programme is aimed at boys 14-18 years and girls and women 14-22 years.
Muhammad-Jawad hopes getting young people involved in sport will filter through to other members of their families.
He arrived in New Zealand with his mother and younger siblings in 2015.
UCOL senior lecturer – exercise and wellness Michael Mann says Muhammad-Jawad has worked independently and within a tight timeframe.
"For a third-year student to complete such a detailed grant application in his placement is a significant achievement. I am very proud of his proactive approach, and it shows what our undergraduates can achieve when they tackle real-life work situations."