Wesley College Melbourne Australia
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Ayel's Zumba project

Posted 20 August 2012

Ayel Akot

Ayel Akot, a St Kilda Road Year 11 student, has received a grant through the National Australia Bank’s (NAB) Schools First program for her exceptional school-community partnership idea.

Ayel’s idea to form a partnership between Wesley College and a commercial gym, by way of implementing a weekly Zumba dance class for girls, has been announced as one of 10 winners.

“NAB Schools First is a national awards program that recognises and rewards outstanding school-community partnership ideas. A partnership between NAB, the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) and the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), NAB Schools First is based on research that shows student outcomes can be improved when schools work in partnership with local community organisations and businesses.”

Charby Ibrahhim, from the FYA, recently presented Ayel with a cheque for $5,000 that will assist Ayel and the College in implementing the program, as well as an iPad for Ayel’s own use. With Zumba being a fun and social way to exercise, it will be a fantastic sporting activity for the girls to engage in, in a non-competitive environment.

Ayel believes there will be opportunities for friendships to build, and that in turn, the girls will develop a healthier attitude to eating and exercising. Another aim of Ayel��s project is to combat depression and self-esteem; issues that Ayel believes are particularly pertinent to students.

NAB Schools First will host a Student Award Workshop in Melbourne in March 2013 where Ayel, along with the other winners, will be invited to attend and discuss the development and progress of their partnership. Marshall Moore, NAB Store Manager is proud to see Ayel’s idea to be selected as one of the national winners. “It’s great to see young members of our community developing innovative and effective ideas on how schools can partner with their local community.”

Dancing is close to Ayel’s heart, “I have been dancing all my life as a young Sudanese refugee. Dancing is so important to me because we dance when it rains in Africa, and, without rain, we won’t eat because the crops won’t grow.” Ayel also uses Zumba to help her focus on her schoolwork better. Another of her goals is to become a dance teacher and to help make young girls feel good about their bodies.

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