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Otago Polytechnic students selected to ‘Live the Dream’

Media release – Otago Polytechnic
For immediate release, Tuesday December 3

Otago Polytechnic students selected to ‘Live the Dream’

Two Otago Polytechnic students have been selected to participate in ‘Live the Dream’ - a national accelerator programme which supports New Zealand’s new generation of ideas and social enterprise.

Kirsty Currie and Hamish McDonnell, both Bachelor of Applied Science students at the Otago Institute of Sport and Adventure, were selected based on their Workplace Health and Activity Management (W.H.A.M) programme, piloted with the Otago Corrections Facility and Otago Community Probation Services this year.

Ms Currie and Mr McDonnell will move to Wellington for ten weeks over summer to participate in the programme, which will provide space, resources and access to some of New Zealand’s leading entrepreneurs and business mentors to help develop their health programme.

“We’re stoked,” says Mr McDonnell. “It’s been a lot of hard work to get to this position, but it’s been worth it.”

The W.H.A.M project was initially developed for the Department of Corrections Prison Officers at Milburn and Otago Community Probation Services in Dunedin. It was so successful that Ms Currie has been employed one day a week to continue her involvement with the staff.

“Workplace wellness is often overlooked, so this was a real focus,” says Ms Currie. “We set about making small changes, including nutrition and exercise, and addressed social habits including smoking.

“A team of eight people lost a total of 32 kilograms and three people stopped smoking. It was a real success and testament to the staff members who wanted to make a positive change.”

Ms Currie and Mr McDonnell recently travelled to Wellington to participate in the Festival for the Future 2013, where they pitched the W.H.A.M concept to a panel of entrepreneurial experts.

“It’s been an amazing opportunity to apply our knowledge, communication skills and professionalism to a real life setting,” says Mr McDonnell. “It’s also identified areas for improvement, which motivates you to work harder. You’re constantly learning.”

Programme Manager and Research Coordinator at the Otago Institute of Sport and Adventure Dr Megan Gibbons says immersing students in a real world setting is a valuable component of learning.

“It’s been enormously rewarding for our students to work with real clients. Not only do they have set deliverables to meet, but they learn how to communicate effectively, juggle timetables and the dynamics of people,” says Dr Gibbons.” Most importantly, they help change people’s lives and that is the ultimate goal.”

In February 2014, the Otago Polytechnic students will graduate from the ‘Live the Dream’ programme, with the hope to continue developing W.H.A.M with local businesses.

“We’d like to turn this project into a viable business,” says Ms Currie. “This experience has reinforced how passionate we are about health and wellbeing. We know this is exactly what we’re meant to be doing.

“We’d like to especially thank Kathryn van der Vliet and Dave Broughton from the Otago Institute of Sport and Adventure for their ongoing support and dedication to the programme.”

-ENDS-

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