This June ten University of Leeds students from a range of degree programmes and three staff members travelled to South Africa to volunteer in primary and secondary schools.
Over two weeks the Gryphons Abroad team made an impact on nearly 200 South African students lives over two projects.
Cycle to Success
The first project took place at Mnyakanya High School, in one of the poorest regions of South Africa where the team taught 30 students, both male and female how to ride and maintain bikes.
Frankii Darko, Gryphons Abroad student said,
“The cycle to success week of the trip has been amazing. To see students who had never been on a bike cycle by themselves and know how to fix them when something went wrong after only three days of teaching is pretty unbelievable!”
Read Frankii’s full blog here.
The team worked with Security Services and the Sustainability Bike Hub team to ship over eighteen recycled bikes which were refurbished after being abandoned on campus last year, as well as the tools and spare parts needed to fix the bikes when needed.
By the end of the week all students could ride a bike, most of which had never been on a bike before and nine students had all the skills and knowledge of road signalling to cycle on the main road.
The skills the students have learnt are invaluable and many of them have already used the bikes to get to and from school, which for some was previously a two hour walk each way. The South Africa school teachers also spoke about the impact of the project on the students’ motivation, confidence and desire to succeed, and how the bikes were being used in the community,
“It’s not only the school that is benefiting from these bikes, it’s also the community. Learners who have learnt these skills are now showing others how to do it at the weekend. They learn a lot doing this project, they become motivated and go on to be something outside of the community.”
Inspire through sport and leadership
The second week of the project saw 160 South African primary school children learn a range of skills based around leadership, sport and education.
The Gryphons Abroad team each led a classroom session based around their degrees, where everything from maths to mental health was taught. They also played a range of sports throughout the week as well taking part in leadership sessions where the South African students learnt the key skills needed to be a great leader such as, communication, organisation and planning.
The week culminated in the South African children leading activities of their own and putting what they had learnt into practice.
Finally on the last day the team went to a Zulufadder Orphanage where they got to meet and play with children who had lost their parents and were being looked after by an older sibling.
The trip was a huge success and has had a huge impact on both the students from the University of Leeds as well as the students from South Africa.
Watch the video and find out how you could be involved next year on the Gryphons Abroad Webpage.
The Gryphons Abroad project is run at part of the Bambisanani Partnership Charity.
It has been an absolute honour to be a part of the Gryphons Abroad project this year!
The cycle to success week of the trip has been amazing. To see students who had never been on a bike cycle by themselves and know how to fix them when something went wrong after only three days of teaching is pretty unbelievable!
The children were all really friendly and to see how determined they were to learn was very inspiring.
I spent the majority of my week with the beginner group and you could how much progress the kids made in such a short amount of time. Our group shrank when more and more of them advanced to the intermediate and advance groups. I asked one girl whether she wanted to take a short break from peddling practice and she said,
“No, we must carry on”!
This was definitely a highlight of my day.
The children kept us on our toes the whole time and they definitely weren’t afraid to share their culture with us mid cycle session. If they weren’t teaching us a traditional Zulu dance, they were teaching us how to count to ten in Zulu. All of which I’ll remember for life.
It’s been an amazing experience! I’m proud to say I helped teach 30 kids how to ride a bicycle in just a few days. I am however even prouder to say that a group of 30 kids have taught me more than I could have ever imagined. I discovered the perseverance the children had as well as the importance of Zulu culture in those same couple of days!
Find out more about the Gryphons Abroad project and how you could be a part of it on the Gryphons Abroad webpage.
Our Gryphons Abroad project is a once in a lifetime opportunity to develop your skills whilst changing the lives of young people in South Africa.
In June we will travel to South Africa and deliver a unique project which aims to raise aspirations through activity and leadership. This student led project is a fantastic opportunity for you to gain a huge amount of skills and experience which will set you apart once you leave university.
What Will the Project involve?
You will spend two weeks in South Africa, the first week inspiring students through sport and the second teaching them to ride and maintain bikes.
In the first week you teach leadership skills, sports activities and a range of classroom lessons to over 100 primary school children, culminating in a day where the South African students lead in organising a range of activities and a sports festival.
The impact of this week is invaluable to the employability of the students in this deprived area as they are taught valuable skills as well as gaining a huge amount of confidence in their ability.
“Gryphons Abroad is without doubt one of the best things I’ve ever done, I had the best time doing things I never thought I would get the chance to do.”
Amy Grabe, Philosophy Student
The second week involves teaching 20+ students to ride and maintain their own school bikes. Travel to and from school in these areas can be an issue due to the distance between home and school (up to 2 hours walk) and this is a barrier to some students accessing an education. You will teach students a skill which can be life changing, this impact is especially clear with young girls as cycling is not a skill that is traditionally taught to women in their culture.
To pay for your place on the trip and donate towards the project costs e.g. buying bikes you will be required to fundraise £2000 over 8 months. This is a challenge which will develop your skills and contribute towards your employability.
“Don’t worry about the fundraising because it seems like a lot of money at the start but it is literally so easy, and such a miniscule part of the process to get to such an amazing country and work with like-minded people that you’re probably going to be friends with for a long time.”
April Leeson, Language Student
Join the Team
We want enthusiastic and motivated students from across the University to join our team for 17/18. The project is open to all students and no prior experience in a sports setting is needed. So if travelling to a different country and experiencing a new culture while leading on a project and making a clear impact on students’ lives in South Africa sounds like it’s something you would like to be a part of the make sure you apply before the 1st October 2017.
We’ve made the application process as simple as possible, all you need to do to apply is email Tilly (email@example.com) answering the following question:
Why do you want to be part of the team and what could you offer?
Your answer needs to be a maximum of 1 side of A4 and emailed to Tilly (firstname.lastname@example.org) by midnight on the 1st October 2017.
Interviews Will Take Place: w/c 2nd October
Gryphons Abroad is without doubt one of the best things I’ve ever done. There is nothing I could ever write that would accurately sum up the project, or describe the amazing experiences I had. The only way to understand is to apply and experience it for yourself; I just wish I could do it every year.
Although the fundraising target of £2,000 can seem daunting there is truly no need for it to be. Whilst it is an individual target, the rest of the team are more than willing to help you in any way they can. I made a quick start on my fundraising, and this definitely paid off. I started doing cake sales in the Edge, giving me a real starting point and a confidence boost. I also applied for a Leeds for Life grant and I was awarded £500, securing almost half of my target by doing just two things. To make sure that my fundraising didn’t impact on my uni work, I designated a few hours in the evenings to planning and for the rest of my events to take place during the weekend, that way I didn’t need to do any fundraising during weekdays. To top up my fundraising total, I organised a charity afternoon tea, raffling off specially made cakes and this was definitely successful! I also did a sponsored zip wire, and wrote to local businesses telling them about the volunteering securing another £500! Fundraising money always seems a little bit off-putting but it just takes some careful planning. It is by no means about who can put on the biggest event, it is just about giving yourself enough time to plan it all out, being thorough and realistic is key!
The trip to South Africa itself was just amazing, it is full on but you really do only get out what you put in; on this trip you’ve got absolutely nothing to loose and only great memories to gain! I had just as much fun as the kids we worked with, and probably even more at times, there is absolutely nothing that you don’t want to do or get involved in. What makes it even better is the team you’re with. Before the trip, none of us knew each other, but I know for a fact that I’ve made friends for life through Gryphons Abroad and its horrible to think that without this project, I most likely wouldn’t have met them! Everybody has the same goal, to make a real impact on the lives of those we’re working with, immediately giving us all a common purpose.
I decided to sign up for Gryphons Abroad 2017 after seeing a post on the VLE and I am so glad I did. I wanted to volunteer at uni, but with having so many other commitments I just couldn’t consistently give a certain number of hours each week to a society. I wanted to try something new, meet different people and make a difference whilst having fun. Gryphons Abroad 2017 went above and beyond this, it was hard work but I had the best time ever doing things I never thought I would get the chance to do.
There is no other project I know that combines teaching young people to cycle in the mountains, going to a game reserve, teaching over 100 kids how to be leaders and visiting an orphanage meeting the most incredible children and giving them things that will change their lives. I just wish I could explain the true extent of this project, but the only way to do that is to experience it for yourself!
P.s To get a real feel for the trip, have a look at our photo’s here.
On Wednesday 3rd May, players, coaches, students and staff from Leeds Sport celebrated a fantastic year of sporting achievements. The Sports Colours Awards dinner was a fabulous evening, just one of many nights that made up the over arching celebrate week, which culminates with Friday nights grand finale; The Riley’s.
The evening was opened by host Activities officer Taiwo Ogunyinka alongside Sports, Dance, & Martial Arts Reps Ruan, Lauren, and Sam. This lead us in to the first awards of the evening, Club Colours, presented by the reps and Full Colours, by Sports Coordinator and BUCS guru, Rob Fairley. These are awarded to individuals who have gone above and beyond for their society or who have consistently performed highly for their team. This year there were a phenomenal 101 Club Colours awarded showing the fantastic commitment of Leeds Sport club members. There were also a huge 40 Full Colours awarded highlighting the talent of the athletes here at the University.
After a wonderful meal provided by the University of Leeds refectory, attendees were treated to a sensational performance by Dancesport to open the second half of the evening. The performance set a fantastic tone to the evening and showcased the talent among our dancers here at Leeds. The Sports Colours Awards evening also allowed Leeds Sport to celebrate its strength and depth of Sport Scholars whom it supports throughout their time at University.
Following these celebrations, we awarded this years White Rose and Gryphon Award winners who again have excelled either through commitment to their club or their performing excellence respectively. This years White Rose winners were:
- Olivia Carter (Squash)
- James Nicholson (Hiking)
- Ayesha Lee (Cricket)
- Shona Macloud (Football)
- Frances Robbs de la Hoye (Rugby)
- Will Carter (Ultimate Frisbee)
- Grace Galbraith (Dancesport)
- Tom Harding (Rugby Union)
- Jack Bullock (Football)
- Natasha Shafquat (Hockey)
- Luke Bowen (Snowriders)
- Ciaran Lennon (Ice hockey)
- Nigel Sibanda (Volleyball)
And our Gryphon Award winners, were:
- Rachel Newborough (Football)
- Rosie Blout (Cycling)
- Robert White (Ultimate Frisbee)
- Fionnuala Crosbie (Netball)
- Ciara Crosbie (Netball)
- Savvas Hadjigeorgiou (Hockey)
- Felix Titherley (American Football)
- Josh Blower (Lacrosse)
- Sarah Donnelly (Kick boxing and Krav Maga)
This lead in to our top 9 awards for the evening beginning with 2 new awards; Social League Team of the Year which was awarded to Law Netball, and the newly introduced this year Gryphon Leadership Award, awarded to Hannah Clarke for her outstanding contribution to the Netball Umpire Academy. The next two rewarded our coaches for their hard work to get the teams to where they are. This years Sue Jacklin Club Coach of the Year went to Hockey’s Chris Golding who coached 3 of the hockey clubs teams this past year. Our Mike Brook Performance Coach of the Year went to Women’s Cricket head coach Rick Holland who has gone above and beyond his role in the past 12 months to deliver an excellent coaching experience to the Women’s Cricket Club and the newly formed Women’s MCCU side.
Most Improved Athlete of the Year was awarded to Rowing’s James Boak who since starting rowing from scratch in 2016, was selected for the Club’s new group of ‘Performance Scullers’. In November James entered the National BUCS Indoor Rowing Series, where he placed Silver in the whole of Great Britain, an achievement which no one from Leeds has done on recent records. He has continued to break other Club records, posting the best 30 minute time on the rowing machine to date. He is driven and always gives his all. He is now setting his goals towards the water.
The Chris Hatton Most Improved Team of the Year went to the American Football who’s team went undefeated and become the BUCS 2A North conference champions, scoring an average of 35 points a game as the number 1 ranked offense in the country. The team also made it to the BUCS Northern Conference Cup finals.
This year’s Roberts Athlete of the year award went to Triathlon’s Sam Dickinson, one of the Universities Sports Scholars. Sam claimed 1st place in the Time Trial Qualifier at the 2016 Kitzbuhel ETU Triathlon Junior European Cup, and 1st in the main Triathlon event. He also took 1st in the 2016 Holten ETU Triathlon Junior European Cup, and 8th in the 2016 ITU World Triatlon Grand Final Cozumel. Sam also achieved Gold in the BUCS Sprint Triathlon 2016 beating Gordon Benson, GB triathlete and Leeds Alumni in the process. He’s definitely one to watch for the future.
Rugby League were the winners of this years Team of the Year, who’s award has now been renamed in memory of James Burke who tragically passed away in April this year. Rugby League are one of the few teams at Leeds that currently compete in the BUCS Premier division. This year they finished an impressive 3rd behind Leeds Beckett and Northumbria, their best league finish in over 10 years. They reached the BUCS Championship semi-finals narrowly missing out on the finals to league winners Northumbria. The team were also victorious in a new event this year, the Yorkshire Varsity, which took place at the Headingley Stadium against a side made up of the best students from across Yorkshire Universities.
The Chief Executive of Leeds University Union, Aidan Grills took to the stage to present the final and most hotly anticipated award of the evening, Club of the Year. For the second year running, Women’s Hockey, were announced winners of this award having sent in an impressive nomination excelling in all criteria for the award. The 24 strong club committee efficiently manages 8 teams and uses its strength in numbers to boast as a leading society for charity fundraising. They have created their own website and have been heavily involved with getting involved in the community with their annual ‘Quicksticks’ tournament. Not only that but they have continued to develop relationships with alumni and aid player personal development opportunities with their ‘Hockey Works’ scheme. Congratulations ladies on a well deserved award!
Join us at the stunning Cookridge Hall for a day of golf in aid of our Gryphons Abroad project to South Africa.
The day will include a round of 18 Hole Championship Golf with prizes for the top 3 teams as well as a competition for the ‘longest drive’ and ‘nearest the pin’. We will finish the day with a post round meal, prizes and a raffle.
Venue: Cookridge Hall
Date: 28th April 2017
Time: 11am – first tee time
Cost: £160 per team of 4 people
Order of the Day
- 10am: Arrival and registration, including tea and coffee
- 11am: First Tee Time – 18 holes of Championship Golf
- 4:30pm: Post Round Meal including prizes, presentations and raffle
- Teams of 4 with the best 2 Stableford scores on each hole to count.
- Maximum Handicap 28 for Men and 36 for Ladies
Offering spectacular views across the Yorkshire Dales, Cookridge Hall continues to pave the way in setting the standards for golf in Leeds, Yorkshire and beyond. Our par 72 championship golf course caters for golfers of all abilities whilst inside our 18th century clubhouse; you will find exceptional service and unrivalled hospitality.
All money raised will support us in delivering a life changing sport and education programme in South Africa.
This week, The Bambisanani Partnership appointed Leeds Sports Professional Development Manager, Andy Lockwood, as a Trustee.
Andy became involved in the Bambisanani Partnership 2 years ago and made his first visit to South Africa in 2015 with students and staff from St. Mary’s School, Menston. Inspired by the visit, Andy set about organising his own project with students from the University of Leeds to head to South Africa to further develop the work of the partnership. In June 2016, the first ‘Gryphon’s Abroad‘ leadership project was delivered to over one hundred junior school children and pioneered a unique cycling programme (Cycling to Success) at Mnyakanya School. Its safe to say the project was a huge success and the students that helped to deliver the project had an incredible experience.
The Bambisanani Partnership is a multi-award winning charity which uses sport as a catalyst to promote education, health, global citizenship and leadership in one of South Africa’s most deprived rural areas. Andy will join Founder Trustees David Geldart, Darren Beardsley, Katie Campbell, Barbara Pounder and Diane Maguire on the Board. Chairman of The Bambisanani Partnership, David Geldart, was excited to welcome Andy to the board:
“Andy is an outstanding young man who has gained national recognition for his work in Sport Development and Leadership. He has demonstrated great commitment and personal investment to the partnership and has the vision and enthusiasm to make a significant contribution to the charity, both strategically and operationally. Andy is both a fantastic team player and leader and it is a privilege for us to have him on board.”
University of Leeds are delighted to hear of Andy’s appointment and are excited to be involved in such a fantastic partnership. Head of Sport, Suzanne Glavin, commented on the appointment:
“This is inspirational stuff and I’m delighted for Andy that his hard work , commitment and personal dedication are being recognised through this special appointment. It’s a delight to work alongside people who believe in their product. He is a great ambassador for the University of Leeds and for the power of sport.”
2017’s Gryphon’s Abroad cohort are already well underway fundraising for the second year of the project.
In the second week of their South African Adventure, our Gryphons Abroad team paid a visit to the Zulufadder Orphanage. Here they tell us all about it.
Spending the past 2 days at the Zulufadder Ophanage has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life, seeing children who have next to nothing, smile as if they have the world is a truly amazing sight. Initially the children were timid and curious as to what a bunch of strangers were doing visiting the orphanage but within a few minutes of us being there I’ve never experienced a group of children wanting as much love and attention as these. Both days were full of playing games, cuddles and laughter and was a real eye opener as to how something as small as a colouring book or ball can make so many children so happy! Before arriving at the orphanage Andy had told us about Poppy, the lady who runs the orphanage, and how amazing she is but nothing could compare to actually meeting her!
Poppy is one of the most inspirational people I have ever met, her ability to control 65 children aged 2-6 was admirable and you could see that every child saw her as a role model. I have honestly never met someone as happy and enthusiastic as Poppy and I really aim to be as passionate as her from now on! These 2 days were unforgettable and are moments I will cherish for the rest of my life!
Our visits to the orphanage were nothing like I ever could have imagined. I was expecting a really challenging and upsetting environment but in reality it was much different. Although the children come from very difficult backgrounds it is far from obvious. Over the two days we spent at the Zulufadder orphanage I was able to get to know the most amazing group of children. The love, laughter and cuddles that these children were able to give and receive was nothing like I have ever experienced before and it really hit me that happiness is not something we get through material items and having the money to be able to do great things but instead from the people we surround ourselves with. Poppy – the lady who runs the Zulufadder orphanage is honestly the most incredible woman I have ever met and will ever meet. The work she puts in to ensure the children eat, learn and love just like any other children is utterly inspiring. I really hope that I can come back in the future and help her to continue the work she does there. There is a lot that I have taken from this trip but my visits to the orphanage provided me with an experience that has hit me hard, I will never ever forget it and I have been inspired to keep helping people in the future.
The orphanage had the most profound impact on me as a person. Working with children is foreign to me and was a huge learning curve. It really showed me how simple things can make people happy and have a positive impact on someone’s life. Seeing the children smiling and offering the ‘older’ role model position gave the children someone to cuddle and become friends with. Reading, colouring and playing with the children and seeing how happy this made them is something I will never forget. It really showed me how important the little things in life are. Saying goodbye to Poppy was one of the saddest parts of the trip. She is by far the most amazing woman I have ever met. Her happiness radiates into those around her and I couldn’t think of anyone better to run such a brilliant centre. I will never forget this experience and I am grateful to have the opportunity to take part.
As a group I think we were all in agreement that the visit to the orphanage would be the most significant experience of the trip and provide insight into a situation far removed from our own family setups. Arriving at the orphanage we were given the most heartfelt and enthusiastic welcome from Poppy who ran the orphanage, her welcome was a perfect representation of the atmosphere and feeling we would find running through the orphanage.
Regardless of the situation the children may be in, there was no feeling of sadness at the orphanage, simply children enjoying being children. The joy the children took from what we would consider the simplest items, a ball, a colouring book, a skipping rope, was over whelming and provides a great example to us all that we should not lose that enthusiasm for even the wee things.
Rosie Victoria Kerr
It’s so incredible meeting a group of children who are so happy, joyful and smiley, despite having all lived through deprivation of some sort, whether it be losing one or both parents, or a background of poverty. Both days when we initially arrived at the orphanage, the children were shy and reserved, after 20 minutes they were jumping all over us, playing games and just enjoying spending time with us. There was a lot of laughter over the two mornings we spent at the orphanage and it was great to feel that even for a few hours the children felt enveloped in love and attention. I think my favourite moment of the whole trip was seeing Poppy, the incredible lady who runs the orphanage, get so immensely excited about seeing donations of kit, clothes and books. This moment will stay with me for a lifetime.
Our last couple of days in South Africa was spent at the Zulufadder Orphanage in Eshowe, and it was an incredibly enriching experience. The children were some of the happiest and most excited children I’ve ever met; they jumped into our arms and there wasn’t a moment where we weren’t holding a child or laughing and having a good time. The real star of the show was Poppy, the lady who has run Zulufadder since it started and a lady that is incredibly inspiring and so grateful for all the things we were able to donate. It was sad leaving the orphanage but it was great to see that all the kit was going to such a fantastic cause, as well as the children looking very cute in their tiny kits. I had one of the best days I’ve had here in south Africa, and it was very emotionally draining but I would happily do it all over just to see their big smiles again.
The Gryphons Abroad team tell us about the second day of teaching the children how to both ride and maintain a bike.
Today saw the second day of bicycle training at Mnyakanya High School. The students were super keen to get started, and were waiting patiently for us in the classroom as we arrived. We set up swiftly and the team delivered some warm up games including the much loved, age-irrelevant domes and dishes. We then split into groups determined on the students’ ability to ride and started our session. It’s amazing how quickly 2 hours passes when you see the ever increasing standards of cycling and abilities of the students; from those who could not ride a bike yesterday being able to cycle over 10 meters today. Even individuals that could ride were able to head down to the road to learn some vital new skills including extremely important road cycling signals to other drivers and intricate bike handling manoeuvres to utilise whilst riding on the tough terrain of Nkandla.
Bike maintenance is coming on a treat, with the students all enjoying learning new skills including puncture repair, wheel change and basic brake maintenance which will be imperative for them to be able to maintain their bicycles once we are back in the UK.
It’s incredible to watch these students learning skills that we take for granted, and to see them already showing off their newly gained talents to their friends at break times.
One of the highlights of this trip has been being able to witness the development of the children we have been working with. Yesterday was the first day at Mnyakanya high school and we ended the day by getting all the kids onto a bike, some were already able to cycle, others picked it up really quickly yet there were some kids that struggled. Today we began the day by getting all the kids straight onto the bikes, it was amazing to see the progress that was made in such a small amount of time and the pure enjoyment on the kids faces.
I am having the most amazing time out here and could not ask to be with a better group of people. The group works so well together and each and every one of us have gained so many skills and really improved our leadership over the course of our time here. The whole experience is going way too quickly, and I cannot believe we will be home in a week.
The second day at Mnyakanya was brilliant, the children were split into groups of ability and I was working with the beginners group. The children were so determined to learn to ride a bike and this enthusiasm was carried though to our team. The whole day was rewarding for the children but more so, for us as a team. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with the children at this school and this has been a total opposite to the week before.
The children here really are amazing, they are so enthusiastic and determined in everything they do, which for me has been somewhat inspiring. I have learnt so much already on this trip but the drive that the children have, particularly the students in Mnyankanya (many of whom have very little), has really made me contemplate my own way of thinking. We came here to help teach the children of Eshowe and Mnyankanya but in reality we are learning so much from them too. Day two at Mnyankanya was just as special as every other day has been. We split the students into groups of beginners, intermediate level cyclists and advanced. It is amazing to be able to teach them a skill that many of us have had since we were very young and to see them constantly progressing in that skill is even better! I am so ready to get back out there today and to have some very confident cyclists by the end of it!
Find out more about the project and apply to be part of the team for next year on the Gryphons Abroad Webpage.
For a full list of contact details visit our contact page.
Mon to Fri 09:00 – 17:00
Sport & Physical Activity Office
University of Leeds
Leeds, LS2 9JT