Year 9 Kingaroy State High School student Rowan Gordon, a member of the Clontarf Academy, practices some movements as part of the RARE program (Photo: ACU)

November 23, 2021

Virtual reality could be one way to entice South Burnett teenagers to explore a career in sports science – a field that’s expected to boom in the run up to the 2032 Brisbane Olympics.

Staff and students from the Australian Catholic University hope to “sprinkle a pinch of wonderment” over students during their visit to South Burnett schools this week.

The RARE (Rural and Remote Experience) Initiative will immerse the students in sport and exercise science, areas expected to be in great demand.

The South Burnett has launched the sporting careers of many sports stars including Steve Renouf, Willie Tonga, Selwyn Cobbo and Taliqua Clancy.

But according to a range of data, students from the South Burnett region are less likely to advance to Bachelor or other training courses then their metropolitan peers.

ACU’s message to the next generation is that there are pathways off the sports field towards fulfilling roles in high performance and community sport.

“Major sporting events leave an enormous legacy in terms of facilities and technology, and there is no bigger event than the Olympics,” ACU lecturer Dan Chalkley said.

“Studying in this field can unlock doors to so many jobs, including exercise scientist, performance analyst and strength and conditioning coach, or you could go down the clinical track. Further study could land you in teaching or research.

“We’re excited to give these students a glimpse of what that might look like and maybe ignite some big ideas in them.”

Delivered in collaboration with the Equity Pathways Unit, ACU’s RARE Initiative is visiting schools in Murgon, Nanango, Cherbourg and Wondai from November 22-25.

Clinical exercise physiologists from ACU are leading participating students through an assortment of workshops, including motor learning and fitness testing.

A big drawcard is the virtual reality technology that enables students to explore human anatomy by peering underneath and between layers of skin, muscle and bone.

“For many remote Year 12s, uni can look like a pretty lonely and unforgiving environment, but that doesn’t have to be the case,” ACU equity pathways officer Jake Hardiman said.

“By taking a taste of uni to them, we hope to bust some myths around higher education, fuel their aspirations and ultimately ease their transition into future studies.”

Kingaroy State High School’s Rowan Gordon is dreaming about a future in basketball but has now been given a glimpse of other options.

Rowan is a member of Kingaroy’s Clontarf Academy which aims to improve the education, discipline, life skills, self-esteem and employment prospects of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.

Choosing a path beyond secondary school is still a distant prospect for him but after the ACU visit on Tuesday he knows there are other options.

“My sister just finished senior and she might be going to uni,” he said. “Today was a lot of fun, and we get a lot of support from school so I wouldn’t mind doing something in sport.”

RARE also shone a light on ACU’s Uni Step-Up which provides opportunities for students to complete two first-year units and develop key relationships with university staff and peers while still at secondary school.

ACU Bachelor of Sport and Exercise Science student – and former Kingaroy resident – Catherine Marsh has returned to the South Burnett this week to coach students as part of the RARE visit (Photo: ACU)


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