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Students host community allied health conference


Jessica Huxley
18 May 2016
The Dream Cricket project at Murwillumbah High School is one of 24 community projects to be presented at the Allied Health Promotion Student Conference, organised by Southern Cross University’s Gold Coast campus students.

Fourth-year podiatry, speech pathology and occupational therapy students will present their community projects alongside two keynote speakers at the annual conference at the Gold Coast campus, for students, staff and allied health professionals on Friday, May 20.

Many students in the SCU allied health degrees have undertaken Health Promotion projects in the community as part of fourth-year study which will inform their presentations.

Occupational therapy students Hannah Morris and Simone Bennett hosted three Dream Cricket sessions with special needs students at Murwillumbah High and will demonstrate the modified sports equipment at the conference.

“For the activity stations we used modified equipment including bigger and softer cricket balls and lighter bats,” 22-year-old Hannah said.

“The idea is to promote social inclusion and the kids really enjoyed it. Some of them just love hitting a cricket ball, swinging a bat and throwing to each other. A lot of games also have the students stand in a circle, which encourages turn-taking.

“The equipment came through the Lord’s Taverners Group which supports disabled cricketers, and we were able to give feedback to the school on how the students went and how the program could be implemented.”

Murwillumbah High’s sports coordinator Stuart Elder said 10 students with moderate intellectual disabilities took part in the three hour-long sessions across 12 weeks and experienced improvement in coordination and cooperation.

“It was a very good group with a range of different skills and the activities catered for the broad range of abilities,” Mr Elder said.

“The students stayed on track each time without losing enthusiasm and interest and worked through the five different activity stations.

“We had some students from the ‘mild disability’ class, who are a lot more capable physically, to act as mentors and they really enjoyed having that responsibility of helpers others.

“We have plans to try a similar program with our mainstream students to introduce basic skill levels in a range of different sports.”

Event organiser and podiatry student Cameron Fawcett said 56 students would be involved in the conference with keynote speakers — Manager Health Promotion Northern NSW Health Jillian Adams and SCU Allied Health Professor Ev Innes.

Photo/vision opportunity at 1pm: Simone and Hannah will demonstrate to other allied health students how the modified cricket equipment is great for kids with disabilities during the lunch break.