A university hockey player from Springbank is taking part in an international humanitarian project to bring basketball courts to a small community in Tanzania.
The initiative, Courts For Change, is being undertaken by a group of students at Carleton University, in Ottawa – including fourth-year health sciences student Bethan Wilson.
“It piggybacks off a project they’ve done for about six years, bringing safe drinking water to a community called Longido in Tanzania,” said Wilson, who is a veteran member of the Carleton Ravens women’s hockey team. “It’s a partnership between industrial design students and business students. This year, they’ve added in some student-athletes – I believe there are 11 of us involved.”
The group will travel to Tanzania in April 2020, she said, to build the courts – a full-size basketball court and a miniature one. They will be located at the school in Longido, a small rural town located in the vicinity of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Currently, there are no useable multi-use sports facilities in the area, according to Wilson, even though the local government has identified recreational activity as a priority.
Wilson said the courts will not only provide recreation options for area students, but also encourage some to remain in the school system.
“It’s about helping ameliorate the school culture in the community, because education isn’t something that’s necessarily valued there,” she said. “The community is trying to get sports [infrastructure] to try and help kids stay in school and value it a little bit more.”
She added young girls in Longido, particularly, tend to leave school before graduating.
“Girls traditionally have to drop out of school at a very young age because their education is not seen as important, and they then have to help their mothers with their water walks,” she said.
The group is trying to raise $50,000, and have been reaching out to sponsors in the Ottawa area for help.
“We’ve won some money from some pools and random draws,” Wilson said. “We’re doing a bunch of stuff within the Carleton community and through athletics, so fundraising at hockey games and basketball games and things like that.”
She said she hopes Rocky View County residents will donate, adding Dec. 3 will be a great day to submit a donation, as Carleton University has promised to match all donations made on that date.
Along with building the sporting infrastructure, Wilson said, the student-athletes will help lead coaching clinics for teachers at the school in Longido, so they can implement their own sports teams and the culture of sport can thrive.
“I’ve learned, through sport, so many valuable lessons – leadership roles, interacting with people and problem-solving,” Wilson said. “I really hope we can help the kids, especially the little girls, stay in school and do their best with their education.”
To contribute to the project’s fundraising, visit bit.ly/2s67pFO