Skip to main content

Monday 7 March 2016

Solent shares innovation at Commonwealth Conference

Nelson Mandela once said: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand.”

Sport for social change is the focus of a presentation by Southampton Solent University Senior Lecturer Kevin Harris and Associate Professor Dr Oscar Mwaanga at this year’s Commonwealth Conference on Youth Work, which takes place in South Africa from 8 to 10 March 2016.

The annual conference aims to encourage knowledge around youth work theory and practice, increase the recognition and investment in youth work as a profession and highlight the role of young people as potential change agents, and this year looks at the role of youth leaders in sport.

Kevin and Oscar will share their experiences from Solent’s Coaching Innovation Programme with fellow academics, practitioners and young people.

Now in its fifth year, the programme is about using physical activity and sport to help address social needs and is an example of young people – students – as sports practitioners and how they can contribute to addressing social issues, both in delivering community projects and helping to collect evidence on current issues.

As part of their under-graduate course, second-year students research the social needs of their local community in Southampton, ranging from issues such as deprivation, physical activity and ethnicity, and then put together a sports based project to address one of these issues, which is delivered in the summer. Key to the project is for the activity to be sustainable.

Course leader for Solent’s BA (Hons) Sport Coaching and Development course, Kevin says: “The Coaching Innovation Programme is a great opportunity for students to gain real-world experience that helps them become industry ready in a competitive sector.”

Around 150 students are involved in current projects and the programme is delivered in collaboration with a wide range of partners across Southampton with an interest in physical activity, health, education and sport for social change.

Completed projects are showcased at an annual industry event, the Coaching Innovation Programme Symposium, to highlight students’ ideas and innovation.

Solent has also developed a monitoring and evaluation framework, which organisations needing evaluation consultancy can draw on. A monitoring and evaluation course, open to professionals, students and the public, is being held on 12-13 May 2016.

As experts in their field, Kevin and Oscar have also been selected to take part in a discussion before the main conference on good practice and collaboration on an international scale, as part of a select group of Sport for Development and Peace specialists and youth work experts.

The Commonwealth Sport and Youth Work expert round-table will discuss sport as a tool for youth work and access to education and training opportunities to gain the skills and knowledge to deliver youth work outcomes, helping to shape recommendations, which combined with recommendations from the conference, will be presented to Commonwealth Sports Ministers in August 2016.

A Senior Lecturer at Southampton Solent University and a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, Kevin is currently studying a PhD researching how physical activity and sport can address social needs and bring people together, and its effectiveness in doing so using a monitoring and evaluation framework to measure impact.

Dr Oscar Mwaanga is an Associate Professor and Course Leader of the MA in Sport and Development at Southampton Solent University. An established sport development and peace activist and social entrepreneur, Oscar has pioneered the Edumove (education through movement) business and has produced innovative and ground breaking research around HIV and Aids and the relationship with empowerment in sport.

More information on Solent’s courses, research and events is available at